Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Online Banking

I spent about twenty minutes in line at the post office today. Because of the hike in postage rates, everyone was dashing out to get more stamps. The way everyone is conducting their business online, it's not a surprise that the post office is having to raise their rates to stay afloat. I myself enjoy communicating and shopping online. But what I absolutely do not like is online banking, and so I continue to buy stamps.

It's not that I think online banking is a bad idea. I actually like the concept. But in practice -- no, no, no.

Let me walk you through the process and allow you to feel the love right along with me.

First, you set up an online password with your bank. It has to be really long and really complicated. It can't be something simple like "Chocolatelover." No, it has to have a numeral in there too. So you try again: "Chocolatelover1." Not only has that been taken, but the computer says it's not complicated enough. A hacker will break through that in a flash.

So you try again. "Chocolate1lover1." No, still too easy. "1Chocolate1Lover1?" No dice.

So then you get really funky. What about "ILCACGE247?" That was created by taking the first letters of "I love chocolate and can't get enough 24/7." Okay! You've finally found a password that no one else has, and the computer thinks it's hard enough. You're all set. You can pay your bills!

Happy as a little clam, you go to the website of your first bill to set up an account with them that will allow you to pay them directly. But they want a password too, and they really recommend that you use a different password than you used at your bank. So you go through the whole process again. "Moneyspender" is taken, "abcdefg1234567" isn't hard enough, and so you get really funky again. How about "bvcxzasdfg12345?" That's the bottom row of the keyboard from right to left, then the second row from left to right, and then the numbers from the row above that. Yes!! Victory is yours!! After fifteen minutes of trying every combination under the sun, you have finally created one that the computer likes!!

You are now ready to start paying your bills online. That is, you can now pay that one bill online. You have to go set up accounts with every debtor you have to set it up. That will take you a couple of hours at least, depending on how many bills you have. And then comes the trickiest part of all -- what were those passwords again?

See, you're told not to write them down where someone could find them. You can't jot them on a Post-it and stick it to your screen, for instance. So how are you supposed to remember which funky password goes to which account?

Yes, the postage rate has gone up again. Yes, it's going to cost me even more to send my bill payments through the mail. But until I can remember which account can only be accessed by inputting "titbwitwwainj," (Tristi is the best writer in the whole wide world and I'm not joking) I'll keep buying stamps.


Michele Holmes said...

Amen! I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one still paying bills the old fashioned way.

Josi said...

Oh, so you guys bank with THOSE banks. If you ever get the chance, go through America First. They have a bill pay there that takes about 30 seconds to apply for bill payment through. They actually do a photo identification with your pin number to log in. I spend, oh, about ten minutes on my bills every month and I do it when I have to go to my account to transfer money between accounts anyway. Easy Breezy...and stamp less.

Annette Lyon said...

Like Josi said, there is a way around all that. If you can manage to tell your bank (after you've done the password dance ONCE) who to send the money to, you can have it done in a flash, automatically, every month. Tada! No more logging in and remembering passwords except at the one bank, one account, ONE password. The trick is when your husband decides that since you've had said password over a decade, it's time to change it--and you agree, but you forget that you've agreed to make it case sensitive, so the next time you go into the account, you keep typing in the new password, and you KNOW you're right, but it just won't work, and then you type it in too many times and it freezes the account so you have to call in and prove you're really you and have the unfreeze it. Yeah, I guess there are down sizes. But we hardly ever buy stamps. That saves a lot of money. :)

Lynne said...

I pay all my bills online through the bank, not each individual bill site. Works great - and only one password to remember.

I keep all my passwords on a program called Splash ID. In fact, I can keep a lot of "stuff" there. There's a password so that no one on my computer can get into it except me. It's only on the computer, not online anywhere. So if I ever forget a password, I just check there.

Tristi Pinkston said...

You know what, with all these people chiming in to tell me that online banking isn't evil, I may have to give it another try. Maybe. Possibly. I don't know. I'll think about it.

Keep talking.

Framed said...

I work at a bank and I highly recommend bill pay. Once you get those accounts set up, it's a breeze and I don't need a password for each account. Best thing is the extra protection from fraud. Checks are the easiest thing for crooks to duplicate. With bill pay, the bank takes money from your account, puts it in the bank's account and writes the check on it. So there's less of your personal information floating around. And I read somewhere that it takes 23 years for a computer program to dis-encrypt an 8-character password that includes letters and numbers mixed up. I use scripture references, birthdates with letters, phone numbers also with letters, etc. Don't give up. I know you can conquer this.

Danyelle said...

Yo Tristi -

I do understand your frustrations cause I had similar experiences with a previous bank I used. In fact, the most frustrating thing was when I'd pay my mortgage, that was also through this same bank, they had to cut a check from one department and send it to another. If in that time period it took a little long for all the processing then I'd get charged a late fee, that I'd then have to call in and get taken off my account. Ugh!

But . . . I totally agree with Josi. I now use America First CU and I LOVE them! In fact, we like their online bill pay and customer service so much, that we decided not to switch to another bank when we moved out of state. We searched around and just couldn't find anything that compared to them. They even provided us with a list of 50 ATM sites here in Kansas City that we can make deposits and withdrawals through with no charges. Very cool. I really like their online banking. Give them a try. You won't regret switching to AFCU.
(Sorry about the speil) :)

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