Right now, I have a pile of unopened bank correspondence. To tell the truth, it’s mostly unsolicited credit card offers. However, I like to go through it all carefully — just in case. Sometimes, something important looks like just another piece of junk mail, when, in reality, it’s a notice from my bank. This happened to me not too long ago when one of my banks announced a monthly checking account fee. I didn’t read through the mail carefully, and was quite surprised when the little-used account went negative (and I ended up with an overdraft fee) because I didn’t have enough in the account to cover the new monthly cost.

One of the lessons, of course, is to close bank accounts you aren’t using very much. The other lesson is to read what your bank sends you. And this is a big one. You need to be involved in what is happening at your bank for a number of reasons — and this includes the banks that issue your credit cards.

Reasons to Read Bank Correspondence

Bank correspondence is admittedly dull. However, there is often important stuff tucked away in bank correspondence. You want to make sure that you catch it — or it could cost you. Here are the two main reasons to read bank correspondence:

  1. Double check your account: This is mostly about reading through your monthly statement. Yes, many of us keep track of our expenses by checking online regularly. However, the statement is the “official” record of your banking activity for the month. You want to make sure that this record is correct. Plus, you might not catch fraudulent items in a brief glance at your online account. Taking the time to go through your account statement (and don’t forget to read the account alerts that come with it!) can force you to double check the entries and catch identity fraud a little earlier.
  2. Be aware of changes in terms and conditions: According to the Credit CARD Act of 2009, card issuers have to, in most cases, give you notice before changing the terms of your account. This can give the warning you need to close the account if necessary. From the addition of annual fees, to changes in the interest rate, some of the ways credit card issuers make changes can really cost you. Reading what your bank sends you alerts you to changes, and gives you time to leave if you don’t agree with the changes. Don’t make the mistake of not paying attention to what’s in your bank correspondence.

It can be tedious to go through what your banks send you, but it is necessary. You can be alerted to identity theft, as well as learn about changes to the terms and conditions of your accounts that you might not approve of (and then change banks). So, before you check that envelope in the trash, or run it through the paper shredder, stop and examine it. There’s a good chance it’s just junk. But it’s a good idea to double check; it might be something important.



Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.