Friday, August 15, 2008

#436 Identity Giveaway

#436 Identity Giveaway

Seems like every bill you get in the mail these days brings with it word that you can save a bundle every year by signing up for EZ Pay. Just send them a voided check and let them take the money out of your account each month. No fuss. No check-writing, no postage. Save a bundle.

This is called Identity Giveaway. It's not the same thing as identity theft, because you don't generally volunteer for that. No. What you're doing is giving the electric company, the gas company, the cable company, the telephone company and who knows who else the right to write checks from your account.

Sure, if you pay by check, they have your account numbers. But Exxon can't just walk into the Amalgamated Bank on the corner withdraw from your account. You first have to write a check.

Blue Cross is unlikely to debit your account for more -- or less -- than you owe whether you have EZ Pay or don't.

But still, if you authorize it, you get to pay your bill without having to do, well, anything.

There are some good reasons for doing this.

If you're a forgetful deadbeat, your credit score won't get battered, because you'll no longer be a forgetful deadbeat, just forgetful.

If there's a foot of snow on the ground, you won't have to slog to the mailbox with your check for Verizon. Verizon will simply electronically debit your account. Nice.

Nice, that is, if you are not living paycheck to paycheck and always have enough money in the account.

The banks CHARGE for bounced electronic withdrawals and it ain't cheap.

They also charge for "stop payment" orders.

So, if one day you decide you want to start writing checks to Con Ed again (no one WANTS to write checks to Con Ed, but you get the picture,) Banco Popular will charge you to stop the service. And the stop order'll be good for six months. And they won't remind you when the six months are up.

Of course, by the time they ARE up, Con Ed will have either notified you they're not getting paid, or they will have put out your lights and turned off your refrigerator.

So what does a year's worth of bills cost you in stamps? Five bucks per account.

How much is a stop order? $30 per account in some banks, more in some, less in others, but always more than the fiver.

Maybe you shouldn't give away your identity.



Shrapnel

--The newspapers are cutting back on their political convention coverage. Probably a good idea. Plus scripts are ready at least a couple of weeks before the non-events.

--The US is all out of joint because Russia invaded the sovereign state of Georgia. They're up to their old tricks again. Well, maybe OUR old tricks.

--All this genetic engineering. All those new chemicals and plants and stuff. Why can't they genetically engineer hedges to grow neatly and don't need to be clipped or trimmed or fed?

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(R)
(C)WJR 2008

1 comment:

pipskippy said...

It's easier just to let them take the money they may or may not be owed, rather than the drawn out process of guilty-until-proven-innocent collections. These days the only reason you don't owe some company a payment is that they haven't asked for a payment, if they ask, you owe - regardless of merit. I'm billing you for this comment, by the way.