The Check Is in the Mail. Not!

Americans today pay more bills electronically than by mail. Here's how you can join the party

News flash from the Federal Reserve. Sorry, it's not a drop in interest rates. It's the fact that Americans now make more payments electronically--by credit or debit card or via the Internet--than by paper checks. In 1995 consumers wrote 49.5 billion checks. By 2000 that number had dropped 14% to 42.5 billion. Meanwhile, online bill payment is now used by some 12 million households, up from 10 million in 2001.

What's driving the shift? Over the past year, electronic payment got a boost when the anthrax attacks elevated fear of using the mail, says Bill Nelson of the Electronic Payments Association....

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