Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Paperless Bank Statements Could End Up Costing You!

Damned if you do and damned if you don’t: That’s the perfect description for selecting paperless bank statements at your financial institution.

You’ve probably seen the paperless bank statements option when you’ve checked your bank balance online.

Your bank wants you to go paperless so they can save on paper and postage. Otherwise, they might just charge you a few bucks per month to keep sending you those paper statements.

In a month, $3 isn’t a lot of money.

But over time, that $3 per month can add up quickly.

So you select paperless bank statements and you can check your statement whenever you need to online.

You’re saving that silly little fee and, perhaps, helping the environment just a little bit.

But don’t let the convenience fool you.

You could be on the path to more fees!

If you ever need to go back and look at a bank statement, you assume it’s no problem. This is the computer age, after all. So you log in to your banking site and look up those old statements you need.

And you realize there’s a catch no one told you about: you can only go back 12-14 months in your bank statements.

If the purchase you want to have another look at wasn’t further back than that, all is well.

But let’s say you’ve been dutifully making car payments on schedule — and even ahead of schedule — but the bank you’re making those payments to seems to have lost track of one of those payments along the way.

You need to go back three years or so to count how many payments have actually debited from your account. Okay, three years: that’s 36 months.

If your bank lets you see the last 12 months’ worth of statements, that leaves you with 24 months of statements you still need to see.

Yes, you’ve saved $36 by going paperless for those last 12 months.

But that same bank that was so happy to have you elect to go paperless now wants to charge you $5 per statement for each of the remaining 24 months.

Now, instead of being $36 ahead, you’re suddenly $120 behind.

Some banks may alternatively offer to do research on the issue you’re concerned about at a fee of $25 an hour or so. Maybe they can count quickly enough that they can work within an hour or two. 

But they won’t give you an estimate of how long they think it’ll take, and if you agree to go that route and it takes longer than expected, you’re pretty much going to be stuck with whatever the bill is because if you stop them before they’re finished, you’re out the money and you still don’t have the answer you need.

Just because you wanted to go with the convenience route and avoid that annoying monthly fee.

There’s an easy way to protect yourself.

If you decide to go paperless, be sure to log in to your bank’s website at least once every couple of months — if not more often — to download PDF files of those statements.

That way, you have a record on your hard drive no matter what your bank’s storage window happens to be.

If you don’t take this step and you ever need to go back and see older statements, it’ll cost you.

There are many reasons people dislike banks.

A fee trap like this is one of them.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.