Are we safer online than with an ATM?
More and more of us are using online and other digital technology to pay bills these days so it is really important that we are comfortable doing so, and that we understand the procedures necessary to make sure that we are keeping our money as safe as we can. There are some real horror stories out there of money disappearing because it was sent to the wrong bank account and there is no doubt that these stories do deter some people from making electronic payments. The truth is, however, that they should be very efficient and easy to manage if you follow the basic rules and make sure you keep all of your details as secure as you can.
The most important thing is that you use the correct account number and sort code details. Contrary to what many people think it is these details that are used to ensure payments go where they are supposed to go – not the name of the person you are paying or their debit card number. So check that you have the correct account number and sort code.
People do change bank accounts from time to time so you need to make sure that the account number you use is up to date. It is also very easy to type in an incorrect digit so care needs to be taken to ensure no errors with these details. I will admit to sending someone £1000 once instead of £100 because my finger slipped over the keyboard. Fortunately I knew him and he sent the money straight back but it’s not always as easy to rectify these mistakes.
If you are paying a large business rather than a small company or sole trader then you might be able to click their details from a drop-down list, but you still need to take care. And you also need to make sure that if you are forward-dating payments that you put in the correct dates and you remember to cancel any payments that you don’t have to make in plenty of time, remembering that the process may start days before the payment due date.