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Paper, please

Statements help consumers, report says

Paper statements work better for some consumers, a new study has found.

Although banks, credit card companies and other businesses are aggressively pushing customers to switch from paper to digital statements, a new study suggests these efforts do more harm than good.

Paper statements benefit older customers and allow families of incapacitated consumers to better manage financial records, according to the report from the National Consumer Law Center.

Those with limited or no Internet access also need paper statements because the hard-copy versions are their only transaction record.

“Paper statements may seem old-fashioned, but consumers have good reasons to continue receiving them,” said Chi Chi Wu, one of the report’s authors. “Paper has its advantages.”

Even some computer-savvy consumers prefer paper because electronic statements are easy to overlook due to email overload, the research found.

About one-quarter of banks impose fees to mail paper statements, but the center’s report urges regulators to prohibit businesses from forcing customers to opt-out of paper statements.

“Paper versus electronic should be the consumer’s choice,” said Lauren Saunders, an associate director at the center. “Banks and credit card lenders should not push consumers into electronic statements with fees or coercive measures.”

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