Be Proactive: Keep Track Of Your Auto-Payments Before You Lose Them All

Sure, being able to set up automatic payments is the salvation of people who are financially forgetful. If you lose track of which payments you have set up on which card, though, you’re in for some serious problems if you have to change your credit or debit card numbers.

We should say: when you have to change your credit or debit card numbers. If the widespread Target card breach didn’t scare you, it should have. Many consumers whose cards were caught up in that net of crime now suddenly have new card numbers to deal with. The card numbers aren’t really the problem: it’s tracking down which accounts you have set up to auto-pay which other accounts that can be a headache.

Whether your cards were caught up in the Target breach or not, take this opportunity to get your auto-payments in writing so you know which cards are signed up where, and which payments to change in case of a card number breach.

Our financial wizard colleagues over at Consumer Reports suggest making a comprehensive list of all auto-debits you have set up, whether they use plastic or electronic funds transfer. If the account does use a card, make a note of the expiration date, and make sure to update the account before your card expires. (If you’re really organized, make a note of this in your calendar.)

Some bills let you set up backup funding sources: consider this in order to avoid interruptions in service or late fees for key bills.

Target breach shows why you must keep track of your automatic payments [Consumer Reports]

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  1. BikerGeek79 says:

    A great trick I use is to have another card attached to your account, with a different number, like a backup. I keep the backup at home, and it’s the card I use for auto-pay things and online shopping, and the other card I keep in my wallet.

    So, for instance, when my bank told me they were sending me a new card due to the Target fiasco, I wasn’t even worried because they sent me a replacement for my “wallet” card. So all the accounts I have set up for the “online” card weren’t affected.

    This also comes in handy because I’m physically hard on my cards, they break and wear out frequently, so not having to worry about resetting all my auto-debits every time I break a card is a nice touch.

    You’ll have to go to the bank branch to request the second card, they won’t do it over the phone.

  2. Alecto67 says:

    I do this as well – I have a card that has all of my auto payments. I don’t use that card for day-to-day purchases, so it’s much less likely to get exposed in a data breach. Meanwhile, my day-to-day card was replaced 3 times(!) last year due to fraudulent activity.

    The insult to injury was when I was out of state and using my card to buy groceries and the declined it due to potential fraud. Yet when someone made online, out of state purchases for a motorcycle and $11,000 of jet fuel, they approved those without batting an eye. But when I actually present the card in a grocery store, they decline me.