Most online retailers today carry and stock the most important, aesthetically pleasing, and useful items we know and love. Getting these goods sent right to your door is as easy as the press of a button. With all the options for vendors we have available now, it’s important to diversify your means of payment as well, to ensure the best possible security and utility of your payment methods.
Credit cards and debit cards are of the most common methods of payment for online retailers, but in situations where a credit or debit card might not be available, how else can we pay?
When you think of paying with the information for a checking account, you might think of the big buys, like utility payments, rent, and insurance. You might not know that as long as you have an ACH-enabled account, your routing and checking account numbers can be entered at choice online retailers for easier and faster checkout.
Generally speaking, retailers who offer payment this way will also offer a means of keeping the account secure. Passwords, verification codes, and reentry of the information every once in a while might be needed, so it’s important to remain vigilant on these upgraded security measures and keep up with the times.
Checking Account Payments: What to know
While checking account information rarely changes, it’s important to recognize the perks and pitfalls of using your checking account information to online shop. By putting in a routing and checking account number, and by saving this information for future use, there is potential for a hacked account which can lead to serious problems with security, both at that retailer and through your bank.
Being completely aware of the risks and ways you can protect yourself should be the first thing on your mind before you decide to share this information with anyone, including a seemingly unmanned checkout webpage.
Remember, you can change or close your credit and debit cards any time. Banks have a ton of security options for commonly used payment methods, which can include reporting the card lost, stolen, or compromised. Locking your debit card if you feel your security is at risk is another option most banks hold.
Checking account information is directly tied to the account, and cannot be closed or changed without some serious adjusting with your bank. In some cases, breaches can cause the need for a full rehaul of your account, meaning a new account number and the transfer of your exhausting funds.
As most folks get paid directly, this information would need to be changed through your employer, recurring bill collectors, and your paper checks.
Checking account policies can also change by bank, so keep in mind that if you have an account type that doesn’t exist anymore, or one that isn’t offered to new members, risking that account can be a mistake that can’t be easily rectified.
Protecting your finances is obviously important, but the terms of your agreements that may have changed after years of use and appreciation can make it difficult to recover from needed account closures.
Methods of Checking Account Use
Considerably the most common and widely known platform on this list, PayPal is a money management service that allows the transfer of funds between users via electronic check. With your explicit permission, PayPal gathers your checking account information for the use of these services. Hundreds of thousands of retailers offer PayPal as a viable payment option. When you make a purchase, it’s similar to a charge made to a debit card, or a check sent to a vendor. PayPal has added security features to ensure the safety of your information, as well as ways to safeguard against fraud attempts without the run around.
CashApp is an increasingly popular sharing service that allows a debit or bank account to be connected. While some online retailers prefer the more mainstream PayPal, CashApp is becoming more common between private online sellers. Sellers through Facebook Marketplace and other such sales platforms can choose to be more flexible with their payment options. This is a round about way of using your checking account to pay for your shopping needs when available.
Similar to CashApp, Venmo provides the opportunity to share funds between yourself and other Venmo users. By connecting a bank account, you can make payments to other users by means of their connected phone number.
While there are risks involved, checking account payment has made strides in the past decade with the boom of online shopping. Among a few of the security measures developed, platforms like PayPal, CashApp, Venmo, and more can now be used to link your checking account to a more anonymous base, meaning you still get the goods, but the retailers don’t specifically get your information.
4. Merchant Specific Sharing
Some online retailers like Amazon offer the ability to enter and save your checking account as a payment method in their online shop. The website used ensures security of your information with things like your password and security questions. Reputable sources with this feature are generally well known chain stores, like Target, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Best Buy. Be wary of any website or merchant you are not familiar with asking you for personal details, including your checking information. As we’ve covered before, you can always change your debit cards, but it’s a little more of a process to change your checking account information.
5. eCheck Distribution
Many online and over the phone retailers like QVC offer electronic funds transfers known as eChecks. The appearance of the eCheck is similar to that of a paper one, where the details of your routing and checking account numbers are included, but they are scanned and processed online. These options, while more common with leisure shopping merchants, are secure and easy ways of making payments online via check or checking account.
What To Look Out For
Phishing scams and scanning software can be used in any online space gathering personal information. Anything from phone numbers, addresses, IP addresses and payment information can all be potentially scoped from these sites indirectly, so it’s extremely important to stay up to date in the latest and greatest security options to keep you and your information safe.
Educating yourself on common phishing scams and tropes will also keep you on the lookout for potential bad guys. Not everyone is out to get your information, but taking that chance isn’t a course of action anyone can really recommend. A few hours of research will serve you well in the long run, saving you hours of heartache trying to get your money back from over the phone and website bound scammers.
First things first, treat your online shopping experience as you would any other transaction process. You wouldn’t share your account information with the guy behind you in the line at the grocery store, or share your pin with the lady pumping gas across from you at the station. Any human interference or request for your personal information should be treated as an attempt to give you a run for your money, in every sense of the term.
Fraud calls are common and the caller can come up with any story or narrative to convince you there’s something wrong they can help you with, and that in order to do so your information is needed. Most reputable sellers have a customer service system that primarily communicates through chat and email. These messages will include a previously given order number, a confirmation code indicating the exact thing purchased and estimated time of arrival. It should look like a receipt with extra details.
Vague responses about a problem with your account should be ignored or reported, especially if these messages include a number to call that doesn’t match the customer service line for that business. Retailer customer service and customer support lines can normally be found with a quick google search. Do not contact numbers that you don’t know for the purpose of checking on your account status.
Secondly, since security is being upgraded all the time, keeping your device up to date and connected to a secure WiFi is one of the most important steps to keeping your information and your accounts safe. Features for websites and the overall computer functionality are completely dependent on the device being up to date. If you’re having trouble making payments, loading screens, or navigating through the common how-tos of your device, it might be time to check the operating system version.
Lastly, computers and personal handheld devices have some of the most important bits of information about you, your finances, and your life. By avoiding sharing devices with friends or family as often as possible, you can reduce the risk of an accidental breach.
Folks might not want to release your information, but may be duped into giving it. If they use the same devices for online shopping as well, there’s always the risk of them defaulting to your payment method, which leaves them with the goods and you without the money.
All in all, shopping online should be a fun, easy, and relaxing experience. The last thing you should have to worry about is the security and functionality of your account information. The ability to use your checking account information can make your experience more convenient and add layers of security that might not have been there with the debit or credit options.
Being open to the experience of using the service that is right for you is going to be the best way of improving your peace of mind when pressing that check out button.
Safety and security are going to be of the utmost importance when shopping online. You’ve got a handful of options to choose from for payment management, but being educated on the perks and pitfalls of each one will help to serve your long term needs.
Whether you choose debit, credit, checking, or other third party platform, stay aware and stay alert to things that might not look right.