Auto-pay is a great option as long as you know when the bills come due and you know that your attached account has the funds to cover them.
In Michigan, a woman who had been dead for five years was discovered inside her car in her garage.
Why did it take five years to discover that she had passed away? Because all of her bills were paid using auto-pay, her checking account covered the amounts, and no bill collectors were after her.
So it was not until the money ran out and the bank holding her mortgage foreclosed on the house and sent a worker to the home to repair a hole in the roof that she was discovered.
There are other dangers of auto-paying your bills beyond the possibility that nobody will know when you die. Yahoo! Finance looks at the financial risks Americans face when they auto-pay their bills.
1. When accounts change – This is not so much a danger as it is a hardship. Assuming you can look on your account statements to determine which bills you auto-pay, when you change checking or credit card accounts, those payments have to be changed over to the new accounts.
2. Maintaining the proper balance – If you are auto-paying from your checking account, it is important to make sure you have enough funds in the account to pay your auto-payments. Missing payments due to auto-pay has the same effect upon a credit history as forgetting to mail a check.
3. Continued withdrawals – This is the gym membership, video-club membership problem. You can quit the gym, and you can quit getting those DVDs sent to your home, but you have to make sure you cancel the payments and protect yourselves in the case that the club you joined is not quick to cancel the subscription.
4. Changing your payment method – If, for some reason, you make a manual payment to an account, that often shuts off the auto-pay feature, which would then cause some trouble with the following payment if you expected it to be paid automatically.
5. Forgetting – It’s great to know the bills are going to be paid on time, but it is imperative to know that the bills are going to be paid on time automatically. Otherwise, you again run the risk of running out of funds in an account.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.