Is Now The Time To Switch To Paperless or Electronic Billing?

Is Now The Time To Switch To Paperless Or Electronic Billing?

The future is paperless! If you’re still receiving your bills in the post, it’s probably a good idea to switch to paperless billing.

Not only will it save you time, but it will make your life easier.

How does paperless billing work?

With paperless billing, you’ll receive credit card and utility statements online every month. To make it even more convenient for you, some companies will provide the minimum payment that you have to make and by when right in the email body.

If you consider how busy your schedule is, you’ll love making use of electronic billing. Best of all, you won’t have to worry about delays with the postal service.

Let’s check out some other pros of paperless billing, along with potential drawbacks to consider.

Paperless Billing: Pros And Cons

Plant In Hand

Pros

Environmental Health

One of the biggest reasons why you should choose paperless billing is because it’s so much better for the environment.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (via The Balance) has found that, on average, every person uses the equivalent of a 100-foot-tall Douglas fir tree in paper every single year.

By making the switch to electronic billing, you can do your bit to save the trees.

In addition to the above, it’s not just trees that you’ll be saving by going paperless, as there are other environmental benefits linked to electronic billing.

These include the prevention of billions of gases of wastewater that are produced in the production of paper and the prevention of millions of gallons of gas that’s required to mail payments to people!

You’ll prevent clutter in the home

You know how all those statements and bills pile up?

By preventing them from arriving in your mailbox, you’ll not only reduce your paper usage but avoid giving yourself extra work, such as by having to shred all the bills and dispose of them in order to prevent criminals from being able to access your details on them.

You might receive some perks

Depending on your credit card issuer, you might receive perks when you choose electronic billing. This could include being entered into competitions.

It’s good to note that you might find that you’re actually charged a fee in order to receive paper statements from the company, but this is eliminated when you choose online billing instead.

You don’t have to worry about bills when you’re not at home

Woman Looking In Mailbox

If you’re on vacation or out of town for another reason, you won’t have to worry that your bills won’t reach you or be left in your mailbox where they can be stolen by fraudsters.

With electronic billing you can access your bills wherever you are as long as you have an internet connection.

You might worry about your safety

When you receive bills online or via email, but paperless billing can be much safer for you. This is because, unlike with bills you receive in the mail, your statements won’t display your full account number.

That said, you always have to ensure that you stay safe against identity theft and phishing scams.

Cons

Your bills could end up in your email account’s spam folder

This could result in you missing a payment, so it’s important to put the email  addresses in your email’s ‘safe list’ to prevent that from happening.

It’s not always easy to keep track of all your emails

Which makes missing your bills a potential risk. When you receive bills by mail, it makes it easier to organize them.

The mere fact of receiving a statement in the mail on paper that you can touch and put on your fridge can help you to remember to pay your bills.

When moving over to electronic billing, always make sure you set calendar reminders to check your inbox for your bills so that you remember to pay them!

You might not check your statements

Online Bank Account

A study that was conducted by the Consumer Action (via NBC News) found that people who receive bills electronically are less likely to monitor the transactions on their statements, which can put them at risk of fraud.

The numbers were quite alarming: 78 percent of people who make use of paper bills check their transactions, while only 43 percent of people who receive electronic bills do.

You might not be internet savvy or have internet access

This is a big problem that still affects many people. In fact, one-third of Americans don’t have internet access in their homes, as a study by Pew Research found (via Consumer Action).

This can make it tricky for them to have access to paperless billing. In addition, some people might have internet access but not know how to use the internet, therefore requiring them to seek the help of other people who are computer literate.

Taking the above cons into account, it’s no wonder why so many people still prefer receiving their bills in the mail.

However, despite the concerns and drawbacks related to paperless billing, approximately 56 percent of all bills are paid online, ACI Worldwide reports.

Once you receive your bill electronically, it’s really convenient to go ahead and pay the bill on your computer right away.

Even better, you can set up automatic payments every month to pay all your bills so you won’t miss a payment ever again.

What Are The Federal Regulations On Paper Bills?

Transaction Statement

Federal regulations force some financial institutions to give their customers paper statements.

Banks need to provide written statements for any account that can be accessed electronically, provide statements for any month that the customer completed a debit card or ATM transaction, direct deposit, or electronic bill payment, as NBC News reports.

In addition:

  • Mortgage lenders and credit card issuers need to provide their customers with monthly statements.
  • Investment companies need to give their customers statements at least quarterly, or for any month in the year when there’s been activity in their accounts.

That said, written statements are not a must for the following:

  • Reverse mortgages, home equity lines of credit, fixed-rate loans that are paid with a coupon book, timeshare loans, and mortgages that are serviced by qualifying small services or a Housing Finance Agency.

What Do You Do If You Were Moved Over To Paperless Billing Without Your Consent?

You do have the right to ask to be switched back to paper billing, but there could be a fee that you have to pay for this, and this has been going on for decades.

Many banks charge a fee for paper statements because of how common online and mobile banking services have become.

You can expect to pay a few dollars for paperless statements for every month, which can certainly add up over time.

For some, just the fact that they can be charged a fee, however small, to have paper statements can feel like an insult.

Choosing Paperless Billing: How To Protect Yourself

Paying Bill With Smartphone

If you want to make the switch to paperless billing because you don’t want to have to pay fees for receiving bills in the mail or for other reasons, there are some things to bear in mind so that you can stay safe.

You need to be responsible

There’s no doubt that making use of electronic billing takes a bit more time and effort on your part, such as when accessing your accounts (you need to make sure you remember all your passwords), and when you want to have hard copies of your statements.

Some banks will provide their customers with access to digital documents up to seven years but others might not give you that much access, which can prove problematic.

It’s worth checking how long the institutions you do business with will keep your e-records. This is important for tax purposes.

If you are audited, you’ll need to have a record of your expenses, and although it’s rare you could be audited up to six years after you’ve filed taxes, as the Forbes reports.

You have to remember to read through your entire statement

It’s tempting to see how much money you owe and quickly pay it, before returning to your busy day, but failing to click through to view your bill in full online can cause you to miss fees, errors, and even transactions you didn’t do.

Is Paperless Billing Safer During The Time Of Covid-19?

Keyboard Button

If you receive bills in the mail, you might wonder how safe it really is during the time of the Covid-19 virus.

Experts (via CBS) have reported that this type of virus is capable of remaining on surfaces for a minimum of 10 days.

This not only means that the virus will stay on door handles and counters, but also items such as cash.

When it comes to paper, such as your bills that you receive in the mail, it’s been found that the virus can last for up to four days, as Healthline has reported.

Fears surrounding the virus have resulted in countries such as China disinfecting its paper money while various businesses on a global scale have refrained from making use of paper bills and choosing electronic billing instead.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that the risk of getting the virus from mail is quite low, as materials such as steel and plastic hold onto the virus for longer periods of time.

While the risk of getting the virus from mail is low, there are some important things you should do to keep yourself safe.

These include keeping a distance from the mailman, if you find your paths meet.

When you receive your bills, you could also wipe them down before opening them and always make sure you wash your hands well with soap and warm water after handling your mail.

Related Questions

What are the most common expenses that people pay monthly?

The three top expenses that people in the U.S. pay are for satellite television services, cell phone services, and internet connections, as Pew Research Center reports.

For how long should you keep your credit card and bank statements?

If you have an online bank account and receive bank statements in the mail, make sure you keep them for 12 months.

If you have an online bank account but you don’t receive mailed statements, you can and should view and print your documents so that you have them if required.

What are safe ways to store paper bills?

If you receive paper bills, make sure you keep them in a safe place, such as a locked drawer.

When you don’t need them anymore, shred them so that the information on them can’t be accessed by fraudsters.

A study by AARP Fraud Watch found that 17 percent of people don’t shred their documents! 

Conclusion

Receiving your bills online is becoming more popular. In this article, we’ve looked at why you should make the switch from paper bills to electronic billing.

We’ve also looked at what you need to know about receiving your bills, such as that you might be charged a fee for requesting paper bills, so that you can make the best decision.

There are pros and cons to paper and electronic billing.

What you choose will depend on what feels better for you, but either way electronic billing isn’t going to go away so perhaps it’s time to embrace its many advantages, such as how it can make it easier for you to pay your bills electronically every month while being better for the environment and preventing clutter in your living space.

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