With your bank statement, someone will get access to your full name, address, home branch, account balances, and day-to-day transactions. In the hands of the wrong person, a personal bank statement can reveal a lot about someone’s life.
Nowadays, most people are subscribed to paperless statements with their bank. However, many older customers with grandfathered accounts may still receive paper statements in the mail. It can be a risk for customers as the mail does get lost, re-routed on accident, and can end up in the wrong person’s hands.
Before we look at how to switch from a paper statement to a paperless statement, let’s analyze what someone can do with your bank statement.
These are some of the things a culprit can identify about you, your life, and your activities from your bank statement:
- Your Full Name
- The Name of Your Joint Account Holder
- Your Full Mailing Address
- The Location of Your Home Branch
- Your Account Balance
- Your Limit for Overdraft Protection
- The Bank Account Type
- Your Transactions (purchases, pre-authorized, mortgage, etc)
- Your Shopping and Lifestyle Behavior
As you can see, if someone were to dig deep into your monthly statement, they can identify quite a bit about your life, and your spending habits.
For example, if you make regular monthly payments to a brand name car dealer, it likely means you own a vehicle under this brand. If you make purchases at a local business, it means you visit this business on a frequent basis. This may not be much for someone to do harm, but it can be a violation of your privacy.
With your bank statement, it is impossible to get access to your account. Even with your full account number and branch transit number, no one can get direct access to your account.
There are banking customers who fall victim to theft via pre-authorized payments such as EFTs. EFTs are electronic fund transfers, and they are automatic debits and credits from accounts. If you see someone has taken funds from your account through an automatic debit – you can advise your bank and they will be able to return this payment.
So, if someone has access to your bank account – yes, they can withdraw money from your account. This is because your account number would be listed on your bank statement.
When someone gains access to your bank statement and other personal documentation such as your SSN and IDs, it may be a risk to you. A fraudster will be able to obtain loans, mortgages, or even open bank accounts under your name. It’s one of the reasons why we recommend credit protection from services such as Aura and Equifax.
If your bank statement is stolen, you should call your bank immediately and notify them. While they may not be able to do anything immediately, there will be a report that has been flagged. The bank will also limit certain transactions and take better control to protect your account and personal information.
What to Blackout On A Bank Statement
You should redact or hide your account number, transit number, and any information that does not fulfill the purpose of the statement request. If you are presenting your bank statement for income verification purposes, you will need to show your account balance.
Similarly, if you are presenting your bank statement to a mortgage lender to qualify for a mortgage, you will need to keep account balances and transactions visible to the reader.
It is common for landlords to request a bank statement to verify your financial ability to pay rent. However, a bank statement is not a mandatory requirement when leasing from a landlord. If you have a good credit score, credit history, and stable employment with verifiable income – it should be sufficient for most landlords.
The best way to redact information on your bank statement is to use a PDF Editor such as FoxitPDF. An alternative option is to print the statement, blackout the text, and scan the document to your email.
Do Banks Have to Provide Paper Statements?
No, banks do not have to provide paper statements for your bank accounts. With banks turning digital, most banks offer paperless statement options now. Additionally, some banks will charge a statement fee to have paper statements printed and mailed to you.
The additional fee to print and mail statements by banks has increased the number of customers who subscribe to paperless statements.
Banks will only generate a statement if you’ve had a transaction in the activity period. Some banks will generate statements for up to three months – and then no statements will get generated if no activity is present on the account. If an account is not used for 12 or 24 months, certain banks will convert the account to a dormant account. At this point, the bank may start charging dormant account fees on a yearly basis.
You can stop paper statements with most Canadian and U.S. banks through the online banking portal, or by visiting your branch to make the switch to paperless statements. You can also resume paper bank statements at any time – but you may be charged to receive them now. Similarly, you can also get copies of cheques from your account through your bank.