Electronic Statements

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I have opted for electronic statements for my bank and brokerage accounts, but never download them and rarely even open them, figuring that so long as my moneydance balance matches my online balance there is no need.

I always figured that a year's worth of statements would be available if needed. However, when the FDIC stormtroopers closed Centennial Bank of Ogden, Utah and closed the website without notice, I realized just how foolish it is to rely on the financial institution to maintain my records.

If a website is closed and you must prove your balance to a regulator because you have or believe you have more money than the regulator's records show, life is much easier with bank and brokerage statements than without. When the brokerage firm fails and you have to put in a claim, those who have their last statement get paid before those who do not.
Perhaps it is obvious, but given the rate of bank failures, and the possibility of broker failures, I thought it a good idea to remind others of the need to preserve electronic statements.

I just created a folder with subfolders for each account, and am adding my most recent statements for all of my accounts with more than $10 in them. I name the files "Etrade 2010-2" for my February statement, putting the year first because it sorts better when multiple years are saved. I will probably sownload them all over time but that will take a while.

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I do something similar with a different naming convention...I also throw all the T&C's and disclosures that usually come... (more)

drieendertig (Apr. 28, 2010 @ 10:21p) |

Good point. I also started adding my T&C's to the file.

DavidScubadiver (Apr. 29, 2010 @ 8:56a) |

That's what online backups are for.

UseTheForceJesus (May. 01, 2010 @ 12:01a) |

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DavidScubadiver said: I have opted for electronic statements for my bank and brokerage accounts, but never download them and rarely even open them, figuring that so long as my moneydance balance matches my online balance there is no need.

I always figured that a year's worth of statements would be available if needed. However, when the FDIC stormtroopers closed Centennial Bank of Ogden, Utah and closed the website without notice, I realized just how foolish it is to rely on the financial institution to maintain my records.

If a website is closed and you must prove your balance to a regulator because you have or believe you have more money than the regulator's records show, life is much easier with bank and brokerage statements than without. When the brokerage firm fails and you have to put in a claim, those who have their last statement get paid before those who do not.
And even if your bank doesn't fail, you probably have only 60 days to get any mistakes fixed, so always check bank statements. Several years ago, Wells Fargo was regularly making small surcharges to my account, and one time I was debited a monthly premium payment by an insurance company I had never heard of before.

That's why I reconcile my account every month to make sure I know if there are any charges that do not belong. I just rarely needed to look at the statement to do that, or if I did, I did not bother keeping a record of the statement. Now I'll just routinely save my statements. Better practice for a host of reasons, but the "convenience" of online statements is somewhat overstated if I have to either print them or save them myself.

Same story with the Netbank failure. No website, no statements.

I always opt for paper statements unless there's a big enough carrot to switch to e-statements.

Even then, I re-distill the pdf before saving it.

One thing that always concerns me with electronic statements is DRM that Microsoft and everyone else keeps pushing. All I need now is that some bright IT guy at a bank justifying his existence implements the default DRM into the pdfs, then when the DRM server goes down, I can't open my pdf's.

I hadn't heard of anyone getting carried away with DRM and e-statements, but with the big push for greater security, I'm guessing it will happen sooner or later.

this is the exact reason why I sign up for a free Mozy 2gb online backup account..to keep all my statements and tax docs

there is currently a promo going on if you sign up with my link you and I both get an extra 512mb (so 2.5gb total for you as opposed to 2gb)

pm me for the link

PS- not soliciting, just sharing

I have no idea what you are talking about, or maybe a small idea. Usually if a pdf is created with some sort of restriction on it, you can't re-save it without the restriction, can you? I never heard of a pdf that once opened could be reverted to be unreadable.

lillazyfats81 said: this is the exact reason why I sign up for a free Mozy 2gb online backup account..to keep all my statements and tax docs

there is currently a promo going on if you sign up with my link you and I both get an extra 512mb (so 2.5gb total for you as opposed to 2gb)

pm me for the link

PS- not soliciting, just sharing
I use dropbox myself. I will eventually take all of my statements saved on my thumb drive, encrypt them and store them there. I don't like to include unencrypted documents offline because I don't like the idea that someone might access my private information.

Saved on my home PC (encrypted), mirrored on a backup drive and thumb drive (both encrypted). Also, print and file paper copies in a locked file cabinet.

samiam68 said: Saved on my home PC (encrypted), mirrored on a backup drive and thumb drive (both encrypted). Also, print and file paper copies in a locked file cabinet.My goodness. You clearly have a lot of time on your hand. Why on earth would you bother to print them out if you have electronic copies everywhere? Are you afraid of an EMP attack?

DavidScubadiver said: I have no idea what you are talking about, or maybe a small idea. Usually if a pdf is created with some sort of restriction on it, you can't re-save it without the restriction, can you? I never heard of a pdf that once opened could be reverted to be unreadable.

Open PDF. Print to office image printer. Open the image in Acrobat. OCR the content. Save PDF

When I do that, for example, with a set of financial statements filed with the department of insurance, which have been protected in some fashion to prevent me from printing the document, the "new" copy has the same restrictions built into it. (That is what happens if I print to our pdf printer, I believe).

ETA: Ah, never mind. Did not realize that the printing to the pdf printer made it like a scanned copy... I thought it kept the OCR characteristics and protections in place. This has been a handy day of learning for me, thanks Evil.

I keep the last rolling 12 months of statements. I used to keep them all but then I realized I have never needed to go back that far. These PDFs are stored in a TrueCrypt file that I have saved to a few servers around the globe.

Nummerkins said: I keep the last rolling 12 months of statements. I used to keep them all but then I realized I have never needed to go back that far. These PDFs are stored in a TrueCrypt file that I have saved to a few servers around the globe.I can understand not "collecting" more than 12 months of statements because of the inconvenience, but I do not see why you would bother to delete statements already saved, given how little space they consume and how cheap space is.

As an FYI, you could easily have a need for six years worth of statements if you wind up getting caught up in a madoff type fraud. And if you are saving electronic copies of checks (what a pain in the ass this is, given how most banks don't give you that as part of the statement), you might as well keep those forever in case you need a record of how much you spent on something.

DavidScubadiver said: When I do that, for example, with a set of financial statements filed with the department of insurance, which have been protected in some fashion to prevent me from printing the document, the "new" copy has the same restrictions built into it. (That is what happens if I print to our pdf printer, I believe).

ETA: Ah, never mind. Did not realize that the printing to the pdf printer made it like a scanned copy... I thought it kept the OCR characteristics and protections in place. This has been a handy day of learning for me, thanks Evil.


You need to print it to an printer that supports image files, which may or may not be an option in your Acrobat version. I typically run it through XPS Document Writer, which works every time.

Also, it isn't necessarily safe to assume that you have a year or more of statements online. I went to go check when I opened my M&T account to see if I could safely close it without fear of the early closure fee, and it turns out they only have a couple months of history available.

I too have begun to opt out of online statements. This came about when I was recently audited by the IRS for tax year 2007. It took a lot of effort to find all of the statements that they wanted (it took me about a week to find everything). During this process I realized how much easier it would have been if I had had paper copies. I won't let this happen again.

DavidScubadiver said: Nummerkins said: I keep the last rolling 12 months of statements. I used to keep them all but then I realized I have never needed to go back that far. These PDFs are stored in a TrueCrypt file that I have saved to a few servers around the globe.I can understand not "collecting" more than 12 months of statements because of the inconvenience, but I do not see why you would bother to delete statements already saved, given how little space they consume and how cheap space is.

As an FYI, you could easily have a need for six years worth of statements if you wind up getting caught up in a madoff type fraud. And if you are saving electronic copies of checks (what a pain in the ass this is, given how most banks don't give you that as part of the statement), you might as well keep those forever in case you need a record of how much you spent on something.


This same thought occurred to me.. I think 5 years of my statements was around 80MB, so yes it's very tiny. What I probably should have done is just archived those off into another file and stashed it somewhere. Oh well, what's done is done.

markbyte said: I too have begun to opt out of online statements. This came about when I was recently audited by the IRS for tax year 2007. It took a lot of effort to find all of the statements that they wanted (it took me about a week to find everything). During this process I realized how much easier it would have been if I had had paper copies. I won't let this happen again.Funny, I am much more likely to find something electronically stored than if I have it in a filing cabinet. The trouble with either "system" is that you have to actually file it whether in paper form or electronic form. Sure, paper is something you are forced to deal with because its sitting in the house, but I don't want to deal with the storage/fire hazard of all that paper. If I can force myself to save my account statements once a month in an electronic folder, well I'll be ready for the IRS when my day comes!

I aggregate everything in YODLEE.. I login once or twice a day and look things over.
I haven't balanced a checkbook or looked at a paper brokerage invoice in years.

robby69 said: I aggregate everything in YODLEE.. I login once or twice a day and look things over.
I haven't balanced a checkbook or looked at a paper brokerage invoice in years.


I don't believe that would actually have helped in OP's situation.

robby69 said: I aggregate everything in YODLEE.. I login once or twice a day and look things over.
I haven't balanced a checkbook or looked at a paper brokerage invoice in years.
You sir, have missed my point and should re-read the op! Should your bank fail and be closed down, you will have to hope the bank's records a) are accessible; b) match what you have in Yodlee; and c) that the government functionary gets it right when they mail you your check. Otherwise you will have to tell said functionary to "double check" his records (and sorry, no, I have no records myself but trust me on this one, I am right and you are wrong) because Yodlee shows a different balance.

If you have your statements in paper or electronic form you can guarantee a quicker response time in the event of an error. Plus, when the EMP occurs and your electronic records are scrambled, how the hell are you going to prove what you are owed? Again, it is better to have a statement than not to have one.

Dave,

I will create you a statement for your closed bank if you split the profits with me =D

davef139 said: Dave,

I will create you a statement for your closed bank if you split the profits with me =D
Funny. I am so mad because this was the account I was using to deposit a lot of money from a bank officer who contacted me about helping him withdraw certain funds from his nigerian bank. Now he is going to think I misled him.

DavidScubadiver said:
I just created a folder with subfolders for each account, and am adding my most recent statements for all of my accounts with more than $10 in them. I name the files "Etrade 2010-2" for my February statement, putting the year first because it sorts better when multiple years are saved. I will probably sownload them all over time but that will take a while.


Good stuff. Don't forget to make that folder on an encrypted container, e.g., TrueCrypt.

But you know, folks, the burden of proving that you have funds there does not make sense. If in fact, a regular or court relied on your to provide statements, the possibilities are limitless (with help of Photoshop).

1. What if you have statement from March 4, 2010, but Bank closed on March 21, 2010? You could have withdrawn the entire amount in the interim,

2. What if you have statement from Feb 4, 2010, but not from Mar 4, 2010?

3. What if you photoshop the Mar 4, 2010, statement to show that you have $1 under the FDIC limit?

In other words, this is a scheme for "Name-your-own-balance".

If FDIC can not guarantee the security and availability of records, then forget about it.

Situation is the same as if there is no FDIC insurance.

Regarding photoshoping a stement. If someone steps forward and says, "it is illegal to manufacture bank statements", then consider this:

1. What if only 200 people manufacture statements, and between them they claim the FDIC maximum? Strategically (in a game theoretic) sense, these people are basically scamming the other 98% of the depositors who are honest. If their trick is going to pass because FDIC wants customer furnished statements, then every self respecting customer would have to provide a statement for the maximum FDIC limit.

Otherwise, it is a lose-lose situation to provide your own statement.

2. What if you provide an actual statement, but you are subsequently accused of manufacturing that?

3. What if you provide an actual statement, but it does not agree with the bank's own records. You are not accused of anything, but they put your name in a secret list of some sort?

Therefor, it could be argued, using (1) logic, (2) state of available technology, and (3) game theory, that it is pretty much useless to have your own statements.

You are missing the point here entirely. Your brokerage and bank funds will be returned to you quicker if you have your statements, this is particularly so if you have to submit a claim in a SIPC matter. And if my records differ from a failed bank's records, chances are that I am not alone and my claim will there too be expedited if I have my statements. Virtually every dollar can be traced, at least for me, since I make no cash deposits or withdrawals from most of my accounts. "Proving" that without a statement, while theoretically possible is much easier with my statement in hand.

DavidScubadiver said: Funny, I am much more likely to find something electronically stored than if I have it in a filing cabinet. The trouble with either "system" is that you have to actually file it whether in paper form or electronic form. Sure, paper is something you are forced to deal with because its sitting in the house, but I don't want to deal with the storage/fire hazard of all that paper. If I can force myself to save my account statements once a month in an electronic folder, well I'll be ready for the IRS when my day comes!
I agree with almost every post you made in this thread. I too much prefer eStatements to paper ones. Another disadvantage to paper is you can't easily back it up in a second place. After losing several paper files in a flooded basement I decided that electronic ones are the way to go.

I'm now accumulating tons of stuff electronically. Banking statements, credit cards, brokers, tax statements, insurance bills & EOB's, utility bills, even my wife's pay stubs.

Yes, it takes time to download and file them. That's a downside to having many accounts. It's slightly alleviated by getting eBills in my bank's bill pay, so that I can download statements for several billers from one place without having to go to to each one individually.

I store all of that in a TrueCrypt volume, which is backed up in multiple places.

By the way, you may lose access to online account history and statements not only when bank fails, but also when it gets swallowed by another, or even if an account gets closed (by you or not). I've had several cases when I wanted to access online statements that I thought were there, but couldn't.

On Bogleheads, one person "lost" $60,000 in his Roth IRA from a consolidation, and couldn't access the statements for the now-closed account: http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=48098
I agree that paper is king. I print out my Alliant statements, which are the only electronic statements for deposit accounts that I receive (I receive plenty of bills in electronic form).

robby69 said: I aggregate everything in YODLEE.. I login once or twice a day and look things over.
I haven't balanced a checkbook or looked at a paper brokerage invoice in years.
Good for you?

edit - nm, didn't realize everyone else had already scolded you

EvilCapitalist said: DavidScubadiver said: I have no idea what you are talking about, or maybe a small idea. Usually if a pdf is created with some sort of restriction on it, you can't re-save it without the restriction, can you? I never heard of a pdf that once opened could be reverted to be unreadable.

Open PDF. Print to office image printer. Open the image in Acrobat. OCR the content. Save PDF

But OCR is not 100% accurate. Proofread everything can be time very consuming; and proofreading don't guaranty catching all errors either.

Paper statements are also an invaluable fall-back should you die and your personal representative or partner/spouse needs to piece together your estate account-by-account.

Yes. I know we all keep impeccable records and have our impeccable processes. But things happen. Been there.

I don't worry about my investments nor accounts at big banks, however; the OP makes a strong point for small institutions such as the ones offering RCA's. I just downloaded all statements and saved them.....of course within a TC volume.

DavidScubadiver said: I use dropbox myself. I will eventually take all of my statements saved on my thumb drive, encrypt them and store them there. I don't like to include unencrypted documents offline because I don't like the idea that someone might access my private information.

One concern I have about dropbox is the ability of it to delete files at will. Although the chances are unlikely, I worry that it may mess up during synchronization and accidentally delete files I don't have any other copies of and leave me SOL. Depending on your OS there are offline synchronization tools such as rsync for linux or DeltaCopy for windows, but then you lose the security of an off-site backup. Using a sync tool on your dropbox directory would solve both problems however.

Regularly download the statement requires significant discipline I do not have, (consistently in time with lots of time and efforts). I got quite a few bank accounts, brokerage accounts and credit card accounts. Each one have different format and some need to be converted. With all the login in, look-up and input password, skip commercials, locate the page, setup download, copy-paste, save as an easy organized name, log-out, file into it own folder and backup. It easily took me several hours to finish all the accounts. If I do them less frequently to save time/efforts, some may no longer be available online beyond the time limits(some shorter than 3 months).

I wish the statements could be email to me automatically so I donít have to remember and put in all the efforts to fetch them. However email is not secured for delivering sensitive information. Most banks I know do not offer email statement not to mention adding password to the statement file. Paper mails are better (but not much) secured and they are sent automatically to me. For now I still keep the paper option until things changed around.

BEEFjerKAY said: Paper statements are also an invaluable fall-back should you die and your personal representative or partner/spouse needs to piece together your estate account-by-account.

Yes. I know we all keep impeccable records and have our impeccable processes. But things happen. Been there.
You were clinically deceased? For how long?

Regarding dropbox deletions, should you accidentally delete a file you can recover it from the deleted files folder.

Ironically, many of us keep our highest balances in the least safe banks because they tend to pay the most interest. I strongly recommend saving brokerage statements or confirmations as they are the only proof of your tax basis and may be necessary in an audit PLUS they speed your SIPC claim up should one be necessary.

I accept e-statements only (without paper statements) for my Reward Checking Accounts because there is no choice if I want to qualify for the higher interest rate. Given a choice though, I prefer paper statements, for the simple reason that paper is the most reliable offline backup media I know of, especially if I need to keep the information for several years. (Keeping that kind of information only on my computer is unacceptable.)

I'm not comfortable backing up my sensitive data over the Internet because, even if it's secure, I've no control over its physical location and ultimately its retrievability. The longer the period of time that I need documents the less comfortable I am with archiving information offline electronically to media such as CDs, DVDs, disks, tape, etc. Standards change, media is subject to becoming obsolete, degradation, and damage.

Now, I love technology. I pay bills online (although I don't accept e-bills only), save images of my payments to PDF files in a structured heirarchy of folders, keep electronic documentation of charitable contributions, etc, etc. But I do all this knowing that if my computer were stolen or damaged irreparably, I still have the best form of backup available: paper.

While standards change, I doubt we'll ever have a pdf reader that is not backwards compatible to the very first PDF that was publicly created. *AND* even if that were to happen one day, you'll have the option not to upgrade your reader or otherwise be able to download an "old" version of the reader to ready your then old electronic statements. Paper surely has its advantages. Its disadvantages are clutter/fire hazard, and easily stolen or viewed if not locked up in a safe. I have to pay for paper statements from my brokerage account, so I opt for electronic statements.

Eventually you may decide to shred your files from 10 years ago because they take up too much storage space in the basement. That is a pain in the rear without a commercial shredder or a wood chipper. I will never have to worry about discarding my statements because they are electronic and take up little space. And I will never have to worry about spontaneous combustion causing me to lose my home.

Skipping 26 Messages...
DWooley said: Lazyman option:
Reminder set for January 15th every year to download all 12 previous year statements for all accounts. All files manually uploaded to bank undelated storage site for easy reference. Copy stored in encryped usb at bank safe deposit box. Possibly unwise to depend on banks to store same year statements but I can only go thru this process once a year.


That's what online backups are for.



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