Do it online – really?

I write this as a new thread because I do not want to highjack Anitra’s thread about the way her bank has handled her instructions for paying her council tax.

As many of us do, I am moving over to online banking. Yesterday, I went to pay the bill from my Water Company. Can I do this online? Yes. And there is the catch – do it on line with their bank, using their bank’s own system – and to do that you have to start an Internet Account with their bank. Now their bank features regularly in the “Financial Advice” pages of several newspapers for getting things wrong, screwing things up, and generally messing people about. Am I going to give them any personal details? No Way!

It is only a half-yearly payment, so I took the time to go into town (to my own bank) and let them sort out the payment by direct transfer with my card plugged into their machine on the counter.

Now I do not have an account with most of the High Street banks, or with eBay or Paypal, so any of the attempted scam e-mails really stand out (and I get several of these every week), but I can see the need to be ever more careful as my own mobility gets worse and I have to use the online services more and more.

Think first – give the details second.


I am still resistant to online banking especially given the number of scam emails I get, though I do do phone banking. At least at the moment I know they have to be scams but if I got an online account would I be able to spot the scams from the genuine ones?

And, only this morning I got what purported to be a message from the bank that I have used for many years.

Instant scam detector - it was addressed to my normal e-mail account, and this is not the account on my bank records. Such a simple precaution, but with a normal e-mail address that is all over the Internet, it pays to be safe.

I find that the antics of the scammers are really funny - and some of them are downright hilarious. But there is one nasty trick going around: Messages about my eBay account are always forwarded to eBay (same with PayPal) because I don’t have an account with either. Lately, the fake eBay messages are coming through with a virus inside, so you really do not want to click on them. My PC is set to show what the real address is that is hidden behind the obvious one - and the virus laden ones always point to a German address.

As they used to say on Hill Street Blues - “be careful out there”.


I may not be the best person to give advice on this, considering recent experience.

But, it should be perfectly possible to pay a utility company - ANY utility company - online, from your online banking. You certainly don’t have to sign up to the recipent’s service.

I’m sure they have their own reasons for wanting you to believe you do. I’m guessing it saves them money or something, if they can persuade you to instigate the payment from their end, instead of from your own bank. And they will get it faster!

But there’s no reason you can’t log onto your own bank, and tell it to make a payment to the water company, as long as you know your customer a/c number (at the water Co.). Basically, you could have done from your own computer what you went into the branch to do. Same principle. Still doesn’t need you to sign up for the water company’s lousy system.

You could also consider telephone banking, if you’re worried about ever not being able to make it to the branch. Personally, I detest phone banking, and never, ever use it - I hate the call centre, and having to go through the stupid security questions. I prefer to just type it all online. But my mum, who’s computer-phobic, seems to get on OK with the phone version.