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Automatic Bill Pay Hardly Fool Proof

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - After the bank began to foreclose on the home of a woman in Pontiac, Michigan in March of 2013, contractors came to the house to discover the body of the woman, who had apparently died six years earlier. She was never discovered because she was estranged from all family and she had set up payment of all of her bills on autopayment.

For those of us with about a week and a half's worth of savings, we are impressed that she had six years' worth of an emergency fund to stave off creditors. Admittedly, her cell phone probably had no overage charges.

People are authorizing debits from checking for mortgages, loan payments, gym memberships and more - in other words, bills that reoccur month after month, but there can be glitches.

First, many assume that just because they've set up the deduction that the bank is actually doing it. That's what happened to a man whose family found out after his death that the life insurance premium he thought was being automatically deducted, wasn't and his policy had been cancelled, so check your statements.

There is also the risk of overpayment: if you're not writing a check, you may not realize how much you've already paid - or overpaid - so keep track of your payments, lest years pass paying for creature comforts you might no longer need.

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