The pitfalls of paying bills online

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- A Phoenix man made a costly mistake paying his bills recently, and it's a mistake he couldn't seem to fix. It all stemmed from paying bills online. He turned to 3 On Your Side for help.

Mike Denoyer pays all of his bills on time, except he doesn't write checks. Instead, he uses the Internet to pay.

"I hardly get any more bills in the mail," he says. "If I get any bills in my email or if I do get one in the mail, I go to Chase Online Banking and pay it. It's as simple as that."

But last month while paying bills, Denoyer made a costly mistake. He typed in $1,067 and meant to send that amount to his mortgage company. But Denoyer hit the wrong button by accident and sent all of that money, almost $1,100, to Sallie Mae, which is his wife's student loan. Denoyer never knew it, until his mortgage company told him he was late.

"About 20 days later, I get a call from my mortgage company saying they haven't received my payment yet and I told them I paid it," he said.

Denoyer went back to his computer and discovered the blunder. He contacted Sallie Mae and asked them to return the $1,067. But days turned into weeks and weeks turned into more than a month and Sallie Mae never did return that money. Denoyer's wife, Holli, says ordeal has been frustrating.

"We weren't getting a straight answer," she says. "We were promised so many days. We just were not getting anywhere."

3 On Your Side emailed Sallie Mae regarding Denoyer's mistake and Sallie Mae immediately returned all the money. Denoyer says he's glad he has the money back to make his house payment.

And although he says he'll be a lot more careful in the future, Holli it can happen to anyone who pays bills online."Yeah, it's a very easy mistake that can happen, she says.

Just remember, paying your bills online may be quick and easy, but there are pitfalls if you make a mistake, so be extra careful.