Going Paperless Issues

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
rgs92
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by rgs92 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:44 pm

Going paperless just happens naturally and is very easy.

1. Every bill that can be paid automatically via a credit card each month (or year) is set up that way (as long as there is no extra fee).
(Of course the credit cards are all on autopay from a bank account. The bank account is replenished by auto-deposit from income sources.)

2. If the biller doesn't accept credit cards, they usually take an automatic bank account debit each month, so that takes care of those.
These are usually insurance or public utilities.

3. A lone straggler or two insists on getting a paper check, so you have to bear the pain and send it by snail mail. But this is rare.

And that's it. All of this is easily set up online with no phone calls or human interaction.
There are no "PINs" involved. This has been in effect for decades. I barely get any bills in US mail. Most mail is just junk now.

You do have to choose a username and password for each biller, but just write these down somewhere or put them in computer file, maybe with a "hint" to yourself that says XXX in the password is some special name that only you know about in your head. Thus anyone who gets the file won't know what XXX really is.

As far as I know, PINs are just for debit cards. Don't use debit cards unless some particular type of account absolutely requires it.
Why is someone asking you for a PIN?

One annoyance is when a credit card expires, but they let you know quickly enough by email (or snail mail if you forget), so you easily log on and take care of it. I don't quite sense where your difficulties are coming from, but it looks like everyone is pitching in to help, so ask away.
Last edited by rgs92 on Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Doom&Gloom » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:56 pm

rgs92 wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:44 pm
Going paperless just happens naturally and is very easy.

1. Every bill that can be paid automatically via a credit card each month (or year) is set up that way (as long as there is no extra fee).
(Of course the credit cards are all on autopay from a bank account. The bank account is replenished by auto-deposit from income sources.)

2. If the biller doesn't accept credit cards, they usually take an automatic bank account debit each month, so that takes care of those.
These are usually insurance or public utilities.

3. A lone straggler or two insists on getting a paper check, so you have to bear the pain and send it by snail mail. But this is rare.

And that's it. All of this is easily set up online with no phone calls or human interaction.
There are no "PINs" involved. This has been in effect for decades. I barely get any bills in US mail. Most mail is just junk now.

One annoyance is when a credit card expires, but they let you know quickly enough by email (or snail mail if you forget), so you easily log on and take care of it. I don't quite sense where your difficulties are coming from, but it looks like everyone is pitching in to help, so ask away.
I have noticed that within the past year or so that some merchants are apparently notified by the CC company (or some of them) of the new expiration date of an expired (or expiring) card. Therefore, no action on the consumer's part is required to update. Even less effort!

rgs92
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by rgs92 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:02 pm

Wow, that's great. So far I still get notices that my credit cards are expiring, except from amazon (which knows about it's own branded credit card with the nifty 5% discount). I always thought this CC-expiration thing is primitive and don't see why it's needed at all. And just to add extra pain for you, they change the CVV.

I think a generation from now, expiration dates and CVVs will be as antiquated as fine-tuning knobs on old TVs. (Anyone remember those?)

By the way, the OP should be happy with all the credit card cash rebates stacking up from all this.

The OP should know that the history for the last year or 2 is retrievable by logging on to the account for each biller or credit card.

And you can easily download (and store as an attachment for evermore) any bills/statements you want to keep permanently.
If you are worried about a particular email account, just forward any emails or saved items to another email account you have on another provider.
Just use gmail/yahoo/outlook for redundancy.

MulesFan
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by MulesFan » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:22 pm

mouses wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:32 am
I have two problems with depending on email.

First, my ISP wrecked its email system some months ago. It is quote common for people to tell me they sent me email and I've never received it or it has bounced back to them as no such user.

Second, I added a gmail account as my primary account because of this. There is no way that I know of to stop gmail from spam filtering, and I would say 3/4 of what it considers spam is valid email. I use thunderbird, so that means I have to remember once a week or so to access gmail through my browser to see if it has put anything in spam.

(If someone knows how to get thunderbird to download gmail "spam" or to turn off gmail spam filtering, please let me know. Thanks.)
You might try adding the email addresses of the billing companies to your Contacts in Gmail. That should indicate to Gmail that it isn’t a spam address. You might also look in the Spam box and if a bill is on there, right click it (I think) and you should have an option to indicate it’s not spam.

ElwoodBlues
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by ElwoodBlues » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:50 pm

mickeyd wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:17 pm
I still refuse to go paperless unless I'm compensated for it. AT&T paid me $20 to convert. What if I am not able to access my account due to interruption (remember Puerto Rico) or other breakdown. I eventually get it all delivered to my mailbox and review it, mark it up, file it away. I can always pull up a more recent version online and I do not have to print it on my paper.
Many vendors are slowly forcing/encouraging going paperless. Some phrase it as a "discount" for going paperless, while others phrase it as a "fee" for paper statements. I expect to see this trend continue. Not sure how much of the fee is profit versus them passing along to cost of processing and mailing paper bills though.

As for natural disasters disrupting account access, it would all depend on the specifics. With data center co-location and many of them having the "5 nines" (99.999% uptime), it's unlikely the service would be unavailable in general. It would depend on if you had to go the nearest street/city/state/country to find power and network to connect. Puerto Rico may have been an extreme case in this regard, but unless I actually lived on an island, fear of natural disasters would not be a deterrent for me.

On the other hand, as do try to go more paperless, I will probably print and keep some banking statements for quick reference if needed, but less frequently and retain only one copy. Something to reference if you ever need to make a call to customer service and can't/don't want to get on the computer.

ElwoodBlues
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by ElwoodBlues » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:56 pm

rgs92 wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:44 pm

3. A lone straggler or two insists on getting a paper check, so you have to bear the pain and send it by snail mail. But this is rare.
Or do it through online bill pay with your bank, and then they print the check, address the envelope, cover the postage, and mail it. :thumbsup

ElwoodBlues
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by ElwoodBlues » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:38 am

garzjoh wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:01 pm
I'm not sure I understand equating electronic statements to electronic bill payments? The concepts are exclusive of each other.

Everyone should pay electronically regardless of statement delivery method. It is the best protection against late fees and provides evidence of payment even if the recipient doesn't cash the check.
Totally agree. They are separate concepts, and you might be comfortable with one more than the other.

It was easier for me to jump on ACH, CC, and online banking for paying bills. Paperless statements has taken some time to warm up to.

What has really helped me turn the corner is just the basic concept of identity thieves grabbing whatever they need out of people's mailboxes. Bills, bank statements, brokerage account statements, etc., all just lying there in the mailbox for half a day, waiting for someone to grab them. Combine that with whatever personal data (leaked from Equifax, etc.) they purchase online, and it's just too easy for them. The actual odds may be low, but if you're the target, it could take WAY more time to clean up that mess than the time you might invest to adapt your personal finance process to be paperless.

Yes, some statements may not show full account numbers, but just imagine how good the "social engineering" phone call would sound to a inexperienced customer service rep when the scammer has so many other details they can incorporate into their story. All it takes is one CSR to not follow security protocol one time. Or, even simpler, just some would-be scammer seeing your large, Boglehead-ish account balances on a statement laying in your mailbox might be enough to make you the target instead of your neighbors. For a large enough payoff, don't you think they'll find a way to get whatever other information they need? ..............Ok, I'll make my tin foil paranoia hat and leave now...sorry for the rant, hopefully not too off topic. Just wanted to share some justifications everyone may want to consider.

mpsz
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by mpsz » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:40 am

I am mostly paperless, and I have everything autopaid by credit card where possible.

The credit cards auto-pay ("pull") from my bank account. I'll admit that this makes me somewhat nervous, but the key here is most banks' autopay debits the statement balance on the due date. This means that you have at least 23 days to dispute a fraudulent charge before it is debited from your bank account -- it has to appear on a statement and won't be withdrawn until that statement's due date.

Besides the credit cards themselves, I have two other bills that cannot be paid by credit card: rent, and car loan. Both of these are paid by my bank bill pay ("push"), they mail a check directly to my landlord and electronically credit my car loan account.

Do NOT rely on your statements to be available online forever, or even for the stated window. My car loan "deleted" a statement to hide their screw-up... and this caused another screw-up. Fortunately I had a copy of this deleted statement saved and was able to use it as proof. Saving email notifications are probably not sufficient, as most institutions send you a link to view your statement -- the statement is usually not attached to the e-mail, so the institution could delete it from their servers; your email would just contain a dead link.

Why "mostly" paperless? Because IMO, going paperless requires some trust in the company. I don't trust the car loan after they deleted a statement from their website. I don't trust Comcast for the usual reasons. These two companies are required to send me a paper bill each month.

bayview
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by bayview » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:48 am

MulesFan wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:22 pm

You might try adding the email addresses of the billing companies to your Contacts in Gmail. That should indicate to Gmail that it isn’t a spam address. You might also look in the Spam box and if a bill is on there, right click it (I think) and you should have an option to indicate it’s not spam.
This ought to work, but it doesn't.

I have added an email address to my Contacts folder, plus moved emails in my Spam folder to the Inbox for well over a year now, yet the new emails keep getting routed to my spam folder.

I am beyond annoyed by this.

* when an email shows up in my Spam box incorrectly, I do right-click to mark it as "Not Spam", moving it to the Inbox, yet subsequent emails from the same sender keep going to Spam.
The continuous execution of a sound strategy gives you the benefit of the strategy. That's what it's all about. --Rick Ferri

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:23 am

mickeyd wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:17 pm
I still refuse to go paperless unless I'm compensated for it. AT&T paid me $20 to convert. What if I am not able to access my account due to interruption (remember Puerto Rico) or other breakdown. I eventually get it all delivered to my mailbox and review it, mark it up, file it away. I can always pull up a more recent version online and I do not have to print it on my paper.
After the last big blow that came thru Florida last year I received emails from a few credit cards saying if affected to contact them. I think they were going to offer a bit of time for cardholders to recover. Since we were without power a very short period of time, and do not carry balances unless no interest is being charged, I had no reason to call in to see what would be offered.

But remember Puerto Rico was a bankrupt mess before the storm, and had poor infrastructure at best. They aren't repairing their infrastructure so much as rebuilding it, as I have read in some accounts. One of my CNAs has family there, and her son and relatives (not power company employees) were rebuilding their electrical service, actually setting poles, stringing cable and running drops. They are doing what they have to do. My CNA is in PR now as her mother's operation has been postponed so long, hopefully they are finally able to do it.

So far as being compensated to go electronic, my credit union and Vanguard would charge for paper statements, so not paying a fee is just as good.

Still, what works for me may not work for thee. Each to whatever makes them feel safest. I am lazy by nature, so my system suits me well.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

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mickeyd
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by mickeyd » Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:39 pm

Vanguard would charge for paper statements, so not paying a fee is just as good.
I don't believe that VG is charging me any more for the paper statements that I receive.
Part-Owner of Texas | | “The CMH-the Cost Matters Hypothesis -is all that is needed to explain why indexing must and will work… Yes, it is that simple.” John C. Bogle

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by DaftInvestor » Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:43 pm

mickeyd wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:39 pm
Vanguard would charge for paper statements, so not paying a fee is just as good.
I don't believe that VG is charging me any more for the paper statements that I receive.
The fees are here:
https://investor.vanguard.com/investing/account-fees

The $20 annual paper-document fee is waived if you have over a certain balance on certain types of accounts. On other accounts the fee isn't waived.

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Ged
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Ged » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:05 pm

btenny wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:02 pm
My wife and I are trying to go completely paperless for our bills and payments and all our expenses. We are trying to get rid of all the bills that come in the mail and convert them to e-bill and e-pay of some sort. But this is proving harder than we expected. So now we have question how to do various things.

1. Does everyone wait to get an email to do e-pay? We want to review some bills before paying them each month. But we are worried we will not get the emails. Or do you just go look at your account on line and view statements on some fixed date?
I have two specific days each month to pay my bills. I go online to see the statements. I don't consider email reliable enough even though I run my own email server. The primary reason I use this system is experiences with both physical mail and email not arriving.
btenny wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:02 pm
2. How easy or hard was it to set up various accounts to view your bill on line and see statements?
My wife pays some of the household bills. She has not gone completely paperless.
btenny wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:02 pm
3. What records do you keep of these e-bills?
The only records I keep are my brokerage account yearly statements and my tax returns. In particular I don't want to rely on brokerages to keep the cost basis information on equity holdings. I do watch for email payment acknowledgements.

Using a password manager is very helpful in this process.

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Frugal Al
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Frugal Al » Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:51 am

I get all bill notifications from e-mail. On the rare occasion I don't get the e-mail, I see it in Quicken bill reminder (bank online bill pay systems can do something similar). I push all bill payments from Quicken to my banks bill-pay system. This has worked flawlessly for years. I know when every bill is due even if I haven't recv'd it and I can look ahead 12 months for estimated amounts and checking account cash balances. Takes a bit to set up but once set up it's great.

AlwaysBeClimbing
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by AlwaysBeClimbing » Thu Feb 15, 2018 1:43 pm

Paperless for over 10 years, never an issue of any consequence. I have a dedicated email account strictly for anything of a financial nature, which I watch very closely. Occasionally an email will show up in the spam bucket for no discernible reason, but it's easy to spot. Putting your regular bills on an e-calendar obviates the need to rely on email notifications. IMO not going paperless simply makes no sense what so ever, and is a wasteful practice to boot.

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tractorguy
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by tractorguy » Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:52 pm

I also have been paperless for years and it has been working flawlessly. Over the last 3 years, I've moved from a mode of logging on to each web site to pay bills to having everything set up to pay balance due automatically. It's a mix of pulls from my bank, pushes from my bank, and pulls from my credit card. Despite the credit card rewards, I lean slightly towards direct debit from my bank account because I've had to replace my credit card 3 times and it is a bit of a hassle putting the new number in to all of the billing agencies.

We travel a lot and are away from home about 50% of the time with no fixed address to send snail mail to. Setting up bills to be paid automatically makes this lifestyle do-able.

I've skimmed many of the postings and have some additional comments.

1) To the OP who was frustrated by the need to set up various PINS and passwords. This is what password managers were made for. I highly recommend that you get one. There are many discussions on this site that talk about the pros and cons of different ones and the reasons for getting one. I personally would not want to manage my finances without one to remember all of the credit card, utility, bank, etc. passwords for me (including the one for this site). I use Roboform which was highly recommended 15 years ago. It appears to have fallen out of favor and many on this board seem to like LastPass.

2) To the poster who's losing e-mails in Gmail's spam folder. There were various posters who gave you ways to white list sources and fix this. Be aware that you need to be logged in to Gmail's web interface to follow their recommendations. I think you said that you were using Thunderbird to read your e-mails. White listing a sender in Thunderbird doesn't tell Gmail that it is white listed and it's probably Gmail that is putting the e-mail into spam, not Thunderbird.

3) I use Quicken's bill scheduling feature to remind me when a bill is due and to make sure that there is money in the bank account to autopay it. However, I wouldn't buy Quicken just to do this. It would be easy to set up a reminder at the bank or put an entry in a calendar. Mostly, I just make sure their is enough "pad" in the checking account to cover any bills I might not look at for a week or two. Interest rates are low enough that this doesn't really cost me more than a few dollars a year.

4) To the poster who won't do e-billing until he's recompensed. I think this is a very short sighted attitude. E-billing cuts costs for the company sending you the bill. If its a governmental body or regulated utility which typically get cost plus rates, the cost reduction will benefit taxpayers and rate payers in the long run. If it's a for profit company, you are driving their costs up which they will cover some way. The only way they have is reducing service or raising their prices. It may not be direct, but anything you do to raise the costs to a company you are doing business with is either driving them out of business or forcing them to charge you more for whatever you're buying.
Lorne

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Pajamas
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Pajamas » Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:28 pm

bayview wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:48 am

This ought to work, but it doesn't.

I have added an email address to my Contacts folder, plus moved emails in my Spam folder to the Inbox for well over a year now, yet the new emails keep getting routed to my spam folder.

I am beyond annoyed by this.

* when an email shows up in my Spam box incorrectly, I do right-click to mark it as "Not Spam", moving it to the Inbox, yet subsequent emails from the same sender keep going to Spam.
Is it possible that you might have set up a rule that is sending the emails to spam, even inadvertently?

If that is not the case, you might set up a rule to never send an email from that sender to spam.

I use Gmail and can only recall a very few times a legitimate email was marked as spam by Gmail. In a couple of instances, the email was actually from Gmail, which really boggled my mind.

MulesFan
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by MulesFan » Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:51 pm

MulesFan wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:22 pm
mouses wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:32 am
I have two problems with depending on email.

First, my ISP wrecked its email system some months ago. It is quote common for people to tell me they sent me email and I've never received it or it has bounced back to them as no such user.

Second, I added a gmail account as my primary account because of this. There is no way that I know of to stop gmail from spam filtering, and I would say 3/4 of what it considers spam is valid email. I use thunderbird, so that means I have to remember once a week or so to access gmail through my browser to see if it has put anything in spam.

(If someone knows how to get thunderbird to download gmail "spam" or to turn off gmail spam filtering, please let me know. Thanks.)

You might try adding the email addresses of the billing companies to your Contacts in Gmail. That should indicate to Gmail that it isn’t a spam address. You might also look in the Spam box and if a bill is on there, right click it (I think) and you should have an option to indicate it’s not spam.

Another thing I’ve done in Gmail is filtering it and sending it to a specific folder. Often a sender will have several prefixes but the suffix (domain name) remains the same. Such as “info@megacorp.com” and “deals@megacorp.com”. I just create a filter for “@megacorp.com” (no prefixes used) tell Gmail to skip the inbox and send to a folder I created named Megacorp.

Freefun
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Re: Going Paperless Issues

Post by Freefun » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:04 pm

for me everything is autopay- either auto draft or auto CC or paytrust.
Remember when you wanted what you currently have?

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