Dear Harry: I just love working on a computer. My children bought me one on my last birthday, and I am very happy with what I can now do. They are urging me to do "electronic banking." I am very fearful of this because of the possibility of identity theft and bank errors. None of my friends do it for the same reasons and also because they don't get their canceled checks at the end of the month. Do you know of any compelling reasons for me to go this route?
What Harry says: Computers do a lot of things and do them well. Electronic banking is one of those things. You are probably already involved with some of it by having direct deposit of your salary, SS, or bill payments that are automatic. Also, as a general rule, the less paper you have, the lower your risk of identity theft. This means that you do not get a monthly statement. However, you can view it activity in your account with the touch of a few buttons on your computer. That means access to information in your account at any time. In addition, virtually all transactions are encrypted to protect against intrusion by unauthorized eyes. And there's a big saving in postage and the cost of envelopes that you pay for each bill payment now. As to the lack of canceled checks, your present banking arrangement most likely gives you only photocopies of the front and back of canceled checks. That same record is available with electronic banking. My vote is to go for it. Your bank will help you set it up. *
Write Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130.