What’s the Best Form of Payment?
John Wanagas is one of a dwindling number of consumers who still write checks to pay their bills. Statistics show more and more Americans have shifted from paper-based checks to electronic debits.
The Federal Reserve, for instance, estimates 49.5 billion checks were paid nationwide in 1995. That figure dropped to 36.6 million by 2003. Industry experts expect the number of checks paid annually to fall even lower the next time the Fed releases data.
Many consumers prefer the convenience of debit cards to check writing. Between 2000 and 2003, the number of debit card transactions nearly doubled from 8.3 billion to 15.6 billion, industry statistics show.
In addition, there have been major changes in the way checks are processed. Until a few years ago, state laws required an original paper check be presented to the check writer?s bank for settlement. Relatively few banks had agreements to exchange checks electronically. But to make check processing faster, many banks are now exchanging checks electronically.
?I pay several utility and credit card bills by personal check each month. The checks, naturally, have my name, address, checking account and bank routing number printed on them, along with my signature. I understand this information could be enough for someone to commit identity theft. Are the checks returned to the bank or are they disposed of by the receiver?? he asked.
It?s a good question?but there?s an ambiguous answer. In short, it just depends.
Get more on this topic here.