Paying bills online is generally safer than paying with cash or giving a credit card to another person because financial institutions that offer online payment services typically employ security measures that decrease or completely nullify the risk of identity theft or financial fraud. This level of safety depends on the type of bill payment service, with services that have the backing of a bank or a company being the most reliable and safe.
The risk of paying bills online typically rises when users provide personal financial information from computers at public places. In these situations, a person intent on stealing financial information can install software that logs key presses on a public computer in a library or coffee shop to achieve his goal. The same problem arises when using a personal computer or mobile device on a public wireless network, allowing other people to intercept sensitive data from the network.
When paying a bill online, consumers should make sure they always deal with a legitimate organization. They should also keep their computer secure and make sure no strangers have access to the information stored on it. They should avoid sending any of their personal identification numbers or account details to anyone via email or by phone. Finally, consumers should make sure they log out of their account each time they access it. If they notice a sign of fraudulent activity, consumers should notify the bank straight away, according to Bank of America.
To mitigate these risks, users should use the most up-to-date version of the most popular Web browsers, including Chrome and Firefox, and make sure that they’re configured to use encrypted connections. Bolstering the security of a personal computer with antivirus software and avoiding clicking on links in emails from unknown senders helps increase the overall safety of online bill payment. Websites such as MyCheckFree.com and PayTrust.com offer a means of paying bills online with a safety guarantee. Most banks and credit unions also offer similar services.