Shreveport woman's online bill paying disaster

By Tracy Clemons – bio|e-mail

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA)- Sonya Hester got hip to online bill paying a few months ago.

"I found it to be quite fascinating. Got involved in it. Got my payments drafted automatically."

Soon after, disaster struck. A company, which she didn't want to name, did something without her permission: "This company did multiple transactions at once. What should have been $300 ended up being $900, which again, threw my accounts into a frenzy."

The SUSLA English professor says she got an alert on her blackberry that something was not right with her bank account.

"Immediately I got on the phone and called...'What in the world is going on?'"

Andy Fisher, of the Better Business Bureau, says Hester is not alone in this kind of incident in the increasingly all things digital world. He says some cases are honest mistakes, but not all.

"You have some companies that are just not ethical, and they do it with the intent of actually taking your money from you. And sometimes you'll never get it back," says Fisher.

Fisher says whether you're paying bills online, or buying a few Christmas gifts, you should use a credit card and not your debit card or bank account.

"If you use a credit card, then you have that option to recover your money right away."

Sonya Hester survived the ordeal, but she says she learned her lesson.

"It took some time to get rectified, but it has been rectified. And I've since ceased and desist any further transactions online with that company. I mail their payments now," she says.

Hester adds anyone paying bills online or signing up for automatic debits should document everything. She says that's the main reason she was able to get her money back, plus the overdraft fees the mistake caused.

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