For over a decade, banks have started charging a fee for paper statements, encouraging consumers to opt into electronic statements or to “go paperless.” In truth, banks may prefer paperless statements because it saves them printing and mailing costs. Unfortunately, electronic statements don’t always benefit everyone.
Paper statements and the digital divide
NerdWallet writes that: “Banks, by law, have to make paper statements available as an option. They can’t assume everyone has internet access.” Electronic statements may negatively affect many groups of people who cannot easily access the internet. In 2018, internet adoption gaps remain based on factors such as age, location and education. For example:
- Among those who were not high school graduates, 65% used the internet compared to 84% for high school graduates and 97% for college graduates.
- For those 65 years and older, 66% used the internet compared to 87% for ages 50-64 and 97% for the younger age groups.
- Only 58% of those living in rural areas are home broadband users.
Why many consumers choose paper statements
Many consumers simply prefer a paper option for their bills and statements. In a recent survey, 83% of global respondents said they should not be charged for choosing a paper bill or statement. The New York Times, Money Advisor, writes that even those with reliable Internet service may still prefer paper because electronic statements can be overlooked in their email. There are other reasons why consumers might prefer paper bills, including:
- Safety – 78% of Americans keep hard copies of important documents filed at home as they believe this is the safest and most secure way of storing information.
- Record keeping – Many people like keeping paper files of important documents on file to access easily.
- Ease of use – Many consumers feel it’s easier to track their expenses and manage their finances when they are printed on paper.
We believe the transition to digital services and products must be balanced, with equal consideration of consumer skills, technology, online access, and choice.
WHAT TO DO?
Are you being charged for a paper statement? Here is what to do:
- Contact us at [email protected] to let us know which bank is charging you for paper statements and any details you can provide like the cost per statement or per month.
- Download our letter template for the U.S. or Canada, make the necessary edits, sign it and mail it (or email it) to your bank to ask them to stop charging you for paper statements, or to revert back to paper communications at no cost if you have been automatically switched to digital ones.