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Save a Tree: Take Your Bank Account Paperless

By Staff
How can you help the environment, decrease your chances of becoming a victim of identity fraud, save time and decrease the clutter in your home all at the same time? By taking your bank accounts paperless, or in other words, by receiving your monthly statements by email and viewing and paying bills online. This simple change can make a big difference not only for you, but for the environment as well.

While many people have made the switch to online banking, the majority of bank customers still receive bank statements and bills by mail. As a result, billions of pounds of paper are produced, consumed and disposed of unnecessarily. According to a 2007 Javelin Strategy and Research Report, if all U.S. households were to go paperless, over the course of a single year it could save 2.3 million tons of wood (16.5 million trees) and reduce greenhouse gasses by 3.9 billion pounds.  Additionally, it would eliminate 13 billion gallons of toxic wastewater and 1.6 billion pounds of solid waste in landfills.

But going paperless doesn’t only have significant effects on the environment, it can also dramatically impact your own personal financial security. Having bank statements and other financial documents sent by mail, exposes you to identity thieves that steal these documents out of your mail or your trash and wreak havoc on your credit. There are other methods you can use to mitigate some of this risk (locked mail box and shredding personal documents), but going paperless is both easy and free.

Switching your accounts to paperless saves you time filing documents and also helps reduce the amount of storage space you need. Saving years of statements and bills can quickly fill a filing cabinet and add to clutter. When you have all of these documents online, you can easily access them when needed from anywhere with an Internet connection.

Some banking customers may be reluctant to accept the paperless option for fear of Internet fraud leading to identity theft. According to a 2009 Javelin report, however, fraud via online access points only accounts for 11% of total identity fraud. Lowe-tech methods like stealing wallets and checkbooks are the most common ways fraudsters gain access to the personal information of their victims. Most, if not all banks use strict cybersecurity protocols to ensure your personal information is safe within their online banking centers.

Those who still wish to maintain a database of past statements can download the files to print as needed. This can provide a sense of comfort for some that the information they need is still available with or without the Internet. Storing an additional back-up hard drive or CD/DVD in an alternate location (such as an office) can also eliminate the risk of losing valuable documents in a fire or natural disaster.

Making the switch is simply a few mouse clicks away by heading over to your bank’s online banking center. From there you can stop paper statements and arrange to view and pay bills online.

Unfortunately though, not all banks offer the paperless option. Despite the fact that banks save millions of dollars in paper, postage and labor with this option, in fact less than half actually offer it to their customers.

—For more ways to save, spend, invest and borrow, visit

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