Access to my checking account?

Ashley wants to know if paying her taxes online will give the government electronic access to her checking account. Dave explains that it will for that transaction, and he details his stance on this sort of thing.

QUESTION: Ashley wants to know if paying her taxes online will give the government access to her checking account. Dave explains that it will, but advises Ashley there’s usually little to worry about in a relationship that’s not adversarial.

ANSWER: If you use your checking account, then, of course, they will have the ability to withdraw that money from your account. I think I know where you’re going with this question.

There’s nothing wrong with certain entities having access to your checking account. I use electronic bill pay for utilities, mutual fund contributions, and things like that all the time. The only time I warn people against giving electronic access to their bank accounts is when they’re dealing with collectors over a bad debt. The government — even the IRS — isn’t known for coming in and randomly taking money out of people’s accounts. Collectors, on the other hand, do it all the time.

You’re in an adversarial relationship when you’re dealing with a debt collector. It’s a fight. As a rule, no one in that industry should ever be given electronic access to any of your accounts.