Studies have shown that paper statements offer several benefits over their digital counterparts, including:
Access — According to the Coalition for Paper Options, more than 30 percent of Americans don’t have internet access at home, and 45 percent of seniors don’t own a computer. The percentages are even higher for minority groups, with nearly half of African American and Hispanic populations not having internet at home. Paper statements ensure all people have access to critical financial information, whether it’s Social Security documents, bank statements or investment portfolio summaries.
Accuracy — A 2016 study about printed financial statements released by the National Consumer Law Center showed that people are more likely to review paper statements than online statements, making it easier to notice fees, catch mistakes and spot fraud. “It’s important to receive paper statements in order to be aware of your benefits and have knowledge of any mistakes. If you don’t catch them early, they can be hard, or even impossible to fix,” says Howard.
Behavior — The U.S. Postal Service 2016 Mail Moments survey reported that consumers find it easier to organize and plan bill payments when they receive paper statements in the mail. Paper statements are also critical tools for recordkeeping, proving residency and qualifying for lines of credit.
Security — Paper is a trustworthy delivery method for financial statements and other important documents. A recent survey by Two Sides North America, Inc. found that 76 percent of consumers are concerned that digital records are at risk of being hacked, lost or damaged. Therefore, they prefer paper, which they can safely file at home.
Preference — The Two Sides North America study also showed that 90 percent of U.S. consumers want the right to choose whether they receive important financial information digitally or in print. Surprisingly, 88 percent of 18–24 year-olds agreed, showing that even digital natives sometimes prefer print.
As surveys continue to show a preference for printed financial statements, our hope is that consumers will have more choice in how they receive vital information in the future.
“We’re lobbying on Capitol Hill to raise awareness of the difficulty with online statements, from the Social Security Administration to banks and the stock market,” says Tom Howard, VP Government Relations, Domtar. “There’s a tendency for people to be unaware of their financial standing; it’s out of sight, out of mind if it’s not delivered in the form of a paper statement.”
What can you do?
Keep Me Posted North America has launched a campaign aimed to protect consumers’ right to choose between paper, digital and any other available delivery method. Visit the “What Can I Do?” section to learn how you can contact your service provider and/or bank and ask them to revert to paper communications if you have been automatically switched to digital ones.