We've often advised folks on dealing most effectively with their banks. Sometimes the answer is to just flee. But I suspect there are a number of consumers who've avoided that avenue because of the perceived hassles of setting up automated bill-paying all over again. Today at Finovate Fall, the New York-based showcase of online and mobile innovations for the financial industry, I saw what appears to be a painless solution.
A service called SwitchAgent, marketed to financial institutions by Deluxe Corp., is designed to streamline the process of changing your automated bill-paying. You fill out an authorization in a branch of the new bank and later receive an online tracking number--basically, a secure digital signature. With that, you indicate on the new bank's web site the accounts with which you want it to link. The change is supposed to take just a few minutes; you'll receive a confirmation after it is complete.
Currently, about 50 banks are using SwitchAgent to switch over direct-deposit paychecks and recurring bill payments--that is, payments you authorize your utility or insurance company to automatically pull every month from your checking account. Currently only SunTrust Bank uses the new, fully functional SwitchAgent introduced today. That program lets consumers switch over electronic payments of all their bills, including those made periodically to, say, local merchants or charities.
If your new bank doesn't have an easy method for moving your bill-paying functions, consult our step-by-step guide (PDF) for moving your checking account safely and easily.