Open Accounts and Don’t Close Any

In this day and age hacking is rampant. Nevertheless, I still get requests to send bank account numbers via email by clients once in a while. 

It’s always a request that surprises me and makes me feel a little uncomfortable.  Thanks to the huge Yahoo data breach, I’m very aware that sending sensitive information in regular old emails isn’t secure.

There’s no telling whether or not a message will find it’s way into the wrong hands whenever you press send. Fortunately, there are many other options you can suggest to clients that are safer.

Why Fees Shouldn’t Deter You From Payment Platforms

Yes, it can be cheaper if a client sends money directly to a bank account instead of sending it through a credit or debit card payment processor.

This may be why some independent contractors will email bank details with no qualms and clients are accustomed to this way of business. But consider which is more important — short-term savings or long-term safety.  

Paying a fee while using a reasonably priced secure payment system and then simply writing off the expense at the end of the year may be a better idea than risking the security of your data.

Furthermore, using a digital wallet such as the one here at Due.com is an option where clients can send you cash without needing access to your bank account. 

Draw a Line in the Sand From the Get Go

One problem I’ve run into when suggesting other payment options for my clients is ease of use. Someone may not want to sign up for or learn a new payment system especially if they’re already using one method for other contractors. 

For this reason, it’s important to tell your clients how you expect to receive payment before doing any work for them. This way you can explain how to use your preferred system and you can even give an explanation for why you use it.

To be frank, I’ve made the mistake before of not being 100% clear on my rules for payment. Then I felt awkward when they requested bank account information.

I asked a freelancing friend of mine what he would do if a client were to ever ask him for bank account numbers via email. He told me his payment terms were straight to the point:

He gives clients options he feels are most secure and puts his foot down. You may benefit from drawing your own line in the sand as well.

Some Other Options for Sending Information

Maybe you’ve already done work for a client and the only option they offer for payment is depositing into your bank account directly.

Or maybe you prefer direct deposits.

There are ways to encrypt, password protect, and send emails that self-destruct. I’m still weary of the effectiveness of these methods personally. Some clients use payroll systems like Zenefits where banking information you submit is secured by encryption technology. This is ideal. 

Another option is offering to call your client with bank information instead of emailing it. But again, if they write the numbers down on a sticky note (or end up emailing it to the payroll department anyway) who knows where it can end up.

What I’ve decided to do is keep a no-fee bank account open with no money in it solely for business deposits. When money comes in, I move it elsewhere. 

If by chance someone shady gets ahold of the account information (that I’ve had no choice but to send), there’s no money in the account to steal.

It’s Not a Great Idea to Send Bank Account Numbers Via Email

According to my friends, I’m cautious sometimes to a fault. I won’t even send certain information through text. 

However, my motto is if something doesn’t feel secure, think twice. Sending bank information through email willy nilly is an example of when you need to think twice.

Taylor K. Gordon is a personal finance writer and founder of Tay Talks Money, a personal finance and productivity blog on hacking your way to a happier savings account. Taylor has contributed to MagnifyMoney, The Huffington Post, GoGirl Finance, Madame Noire, and The Write Life.

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