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Hiding from the truth: why you should read emails from your bank or credit card provider

Posted 11 March 2015

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Are you one of the 1 in 8 who ignores some financial emails? If so, you could be missing out.

 

If you feel a sense of dread when you hear your email alert and see a message from your bank or credit card company, you’re not alone. According to recent research* carried out for us, one in eight Brits say they avoid opening some emails from their bank or credit card provider, with nearly a quarter of 25-34s saying this is something they do.

Statements or security updates

A lot of people don’t pay attention to their bank or credit card statements, as two in five of those who ignored some financial emails said they didn’t bother to read statements. Younger people did this even more often, with half of those we surveyed aged 25 to 34 saying they didn’t bother to read email statements.

 

Three in 10 say they don’t open emails that contain important announcements or security information. This means they could miss out on potentially critical updates to their accounts, which could require immediate action. One in eight say they don’t open any emails from their bank or credit card provider, and a third of those aged 55 or over say they also avoid all emails with a financial subject.


It’s vital that you check the legitimacy of emails from your bank or lender, especially if they ask you to log in using a link provided in the email. Try to make sure that you’re not being tricked by phishing scammers. Genuine emails from your bank or lenders will usually address you by name, not "Dear customer" or similar. They also never ask for confidential information, such as your PIN or online banking password, so if you see this in an email it could be someone trying to get hold of your personal information. Hover your mouse over any links and check that they really do go to the website of your provider. If you think you’ve received a spam email, get in touch with your bank or lender to see if they were trying to contact you or not. If in any doubt, the safest course of action is to go online and navigate directly to your provider’s homepage then login from there, rather than using the link.

Putting off the problems

Credit card statements and other financial information can be much easier to ignore in digital form than physical letters … all it takes is for you to press 'delete' to send it to the trash folder. However, by avoiding opening these emails, you could be missing out on important information.

 

Security updates can easily slip through the net, so if your bank is trying to let you know about a potential security breach and advising you to change your password, you might not see this. You also won’t be up-to-date with the spending on your credit card or account. If there’s been any fraud, like someone buying things on a cloned card and charging them to you, you may not find out about this for weeks.

 

If you’re putting off opening bank or credit card emails because you’re worried about what you might see, that’s understandable. It can be tough to face these problems, but simply ignoring the emails isn’t going to help them go away. The longer you leave it, the harder you might find it to finally open the emails and see what they have to say. The best thing to do, if you’re having problems, is to speak to your bank or credit card provider as soon as possible and see if you can agree a mutual solution.

 

If you’ve left it a while because you can’t afford to repay what you owe, don’t think that it’s too late to tackle the issue. Speaking to a debt expert, such as the ones at the Debt Advisory Centre could help. They’ll be able to tell you more about the debt solutions that could be available to you, for which fees may be payable. Talking your problems through with someone can feel like a weight off your shoulders and should help you feel like you have taken the first step towards getting your finances back on track.

 

*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 19th December and 30th December 2014, of whom 635 were in Scotland.

by Shelley Bowers

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.