Consumers prefer a paper trail
Contact: Ruth Susswein, 301-718-2511 Linda Sherry 202- 544-3088
The message is clear: Consumers overwhelmingly prefer to receive bills and statements on paper rather than electronically, according to a new survey of more than 2,600 people by the non-profit Consumer Action.Up to three-quarters of those surveyed opted for bills to arrive by mail. For each of nine types of bills and invoices, consumers chose paper over digital delivery: insurance (66%), utilities (63%), medical bills (74%), property taxes (71%), internet services (51%), mortgages (45%), motor vehicle renewals (69%), credit cards (61%) and phone bills (56%).
“Even more compelling is the fact that respondents accessed our survey online and still prefer to receive paper statements for most important bills and notices,” noted Consumer Action’s Director of National Priorities, Linda Sherry.
Many of those who gave reasons for their paper preference mentioned the ease of viewing and accessing the bills for future reference. Paper statements help some people remember to pay their bills on time.
“We manage numerous accounts for which paper files are kept. We have power outages fairly regularly and sometimes need answers when there is no access to my records kept electronically,” explained one survey respondent.
For some older, disabled or lower-income consumers, paper documents are not just an option, they’re a necessity. Those who are not tech-savvy, have difficulty using a computer or have no internet access at home find paper statements essential.
More than one-third (38%) of respondents said they prefer mailed copies of other important communications from service providers, and nearly as many (35%) said it depends on the type of communication. Twenty-six percent chose email or online notice. Consumers prefer paper notices for:
The only category where respondents prefer to receive information electronically—51 percent—was data use and privacy notices.
- Bank statements (57%)
- Medicare and prescription drug summaries (55%)
- Social Security statements (68%)
However, the majority (55.5%) of survey respondents said they prefer to pay their bills online.
What’s more, how consumers receive the bill does affect how likely they are to review the details. More than three-quarters (78%) of those who receive bills by mail said they review the transactions printed on paper statements. Of those who receive bills electronically, less than half—only 43 percent—said they go online to review their transaction details.
While the majority of respondents (66%) have not been charged to receive a paper statement, there is some cost-shifting. Nearly 9 percent of respondents said they have paid a paper-statement fee for phone, pay TV or cable bills, and 16 percent have paid for bank statements.
“No one should be forced to receive [bills and notices] electronically only, or to pay to receive proper notices and statements by mail,” said a survey respondent.
Under the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (E-Sign) Act, if the law requires that a statement or disclosure be made in writing, financial institutions can substitute electronic statements for paper ones, but only with a customer’s consent. As a member of the Keep Me Posted campaign, Consumer Action supports an individual’s right to choose between receiving important financial information online or in print and believes that paper should be the default.
“Customers should get paper bills and statements until they proactively consent to electronic delivery,” said Sherry. “Bottom line, consumers need to know that they have the right to switch back to paper at any time they desire.”
For more on what consumers’ rights are in receiving a statement of their choice, see Consumer Action’s latest issue of Consumer Action News: Paper or digital? (https://www.consumer-action.org/news/articles/paper-or-digital-winter-2018-2019)
Consumer Action’s online survey of 2,607 people was conducted from Nov. 7-27, 2018.
The results may not be cited for commercial or advertising purposes.
To view the full survey, visit: http://bit.ly/paper_digital.
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Statement of Remington A. Gregg, Counsel for Civil Justice and Consumer Rights
We are launching a new “Tell YOUR Story” tool that will enable residents, families, ombudsmen, and those who work with them tell their story about nursing home or assisted living care.
Clear proof of Lily Tomlin's saying that
"No matter how cynical you get, you can't keep up."
Attorneys for Wall Street and bottom on the barrel debt collectors alike are trying to get out of having to follow federal law that protects consumers by limiting the kinds of tactics that collectors can use.
Right now, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act covers debt collecting attorneys the same as all other debt collectors. Lawyers for the collectors are trying to give themselves an immunity shield so that they can go back to using these abusive tactics without fear of being held to account by consumers.
If anything, by virtue of being attorneys, attorneys who collect debts should be held to a HIGHER standard, not allowed to break the law with impunity.
Let your congressional representatives know that you
OPPOSE ANY EFFORT TO EXEMPT ATTORNEYS FROM THE FDCPA.
Here's the text of an alert on the subject from the National Consumer Law Center. The complete text with end notes is at the end (click on it below to download file).
A bill pending in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 5082, Practice of Law Technical Clarification Act of 2018 (Mooney-Gonzalez) (amending the previously filed H.R. 4550), would exempt attorneys and law firms engaged in litigation from the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and eliminate Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) authority over them.
The short answer to "How do criminals steal from the elderly?" is "by phone, mostly."
And new phone-based payment services that let you send money to others without even leaving your house make it crucial that you remember this key survival rule:
MONEY NEVER CALLS YOU ON THE PHONE.
And if you think you've found the exception to this rule, call an attorney or a trusted friend with good sense to discuss the offer before you do ANYTHING that the caller suggests. If you have truly found the exception to the rule, it'll wait for you to conduct a thorough investigation.
If you feel ANY pressure to seize the opportunity at all, that's the clearest sign of all that it's a SCAM.
Remember, the phone and internet means just one thing for sure:
Every criminal in the entire world is just one click or phonecall away from you.
In years past, you pretty much only did business with people nearby; now you can be ripped off by someone from a country you can't even pronounce just as easily as by someone who calls you from a boiler-room scam operation in your own hometown.
How Criminal Steal $37 billion a year from the elderly
This is one of the most frequent and difficult problems I run into - calls from people who are shocked to see their paycheck reduced by a wage garnishment or who are suddenly bouncing checks and getting hit with overdraft fees for debits and failed payment fees because their bank accounts were garnished ...
This problem is why you should NEVER ignore a demand letter or a lawsuit -- the problem you cause yourself when you do is always exponentially larger and more expensive to solve than the one you started with.
John Gear is a Salem attorney in solo practice