BofA: Let Us Email You Disclosures Or Get The Hell Out

In a shift that can be rationalized as environmentally friendly, Bank of America is telling customers that they must agree to receive disclosures, notifications, statements and bills via e-mail if they want to continue using online banking.

Nunya, who tipped us off to the announcement, writes:

The premise is simple. Consent to receive legal disclosures, notifications and your monthly bill electronically or Bank of America denies you access to your banking information online.

What part of “I want to formally receive my bill and legal disclosures in the mail” is so difficult? Since when do we trade in physically delivery to our home and mail forwarding and return address service for “If you fail to update or change an incorrect e-mail address… you agree that any Communications shall nevertheless be deemed to have been provided to you… (if) e-mailed to the e-mail address we have for you in our records.”

The Library of Congress reports they’ve lost all recordings of the first 10 years of broadcast radio thanks to corruption in the data files after converting to digital, so why should I be happy everyone is forcing me to accept digital notification of legally binding contracts and invoices?

If you bank with BofA, are you considering turning down the offer you can’t refuse?

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. FrugalFreak says:

    I prefer cold hard paper for financial recordkeeping. They seem to be pulling a movie industry tatic that wants to go all streaming. They prefer you did lose your documents for their sake it seems.

    • digital0verdose says:

      I think that is a bit disingenuous. Considering how much bank profits are taking hits due to recent, positive legislation, they are finding ways of cutting cost corners. Not printing is something that will save them a lot of costs in both materials and wages.

      • BigErn says:

        Agreed. This one is not about bank profits, it’s about getting with the times and doing the right thing for a lot of reasons. Period.

    • Griking says:

      I’m sure that you can print a copy of the online invoices if you really want a hard copy.

    • BigErn says:

      “for financial recordkeeping”…you cannot be serious. Stop churning your own butter and writing paper checks and join the rest of us in the 21st century. Wow. Unbelievable.

      • Genocidicbunny says:

        You must have never had a problem with any of your bank accounts.

        I keep paper copies of all financial transactions. Online banking is nice, but if something happens to that, I will still have access to my past statements.

      • full.tang.halo says:

        I spent over 3 months trying to get back money back from BofA on 2 checks that were deposited by a company that WASN’T the printed payee on the checks @ work. Physical paperwork is the stick you can beat them with again and again until they fix the problem.

    • SkyHawk says:

      I agree. I’m a spaz about my data being backed up on my computer properly. I would opt for a paper backup because computers, as with any machine, will fail eventually. Paper will not. I would keep papers like that in an everything-proof safe, though.

    • SunnyLea says:

      Then print it yourself. Voila!

  2. Gramin says:

    I see no issue with this. If you want to bank ONLINE, then you consent to receive information via electronic methods (ONLINE) only. Otherwise, come to the bank.

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      Sorry, but I bank with BoA and I use their online service ONLY for paying bills. I insist on a paper trail of monthly statements to ensure everything is handled properly. It’s the same reason I haven’t signed up for electronic statements anywhere else. Snail-mail is much more reliable than e-mail, so for critical things involving my money I insist on it. If BoA is going to shove this down my throat then it’s time for me to look elsewhere for a bank. I’ve been considering it for a while, and this may very well be the final straw.

      • Gramin says:

        BofA is only going to be the first. Several others will follow suit. Maybe it’s time for you to change. An electronic statement is no less reliable than a paper statement (a document that is electronic in its original form). In an age that is connected to the internet 24/7, this makes sense. And I can receive electronic statements significantly faster than paper statements, allowing me to address any potential issues faster than before.

        • vastrightwing says:

          I don’t check my email regularly due to spam. I get over 100/day and a bill/statement looks like spam to my filters and configuring my filters for this is something I don’t want to do when I can have the bank send me a paper statement each month. Move along. This is a business opportunity for some other bank.

          By the way, why do people still have BoA accounts anyway?

      • bwcbwc says:

        This, combined with the un-requested “upgrade” to a World Points card that screwed up my billing, is the last straw for me. Are there any national mega-banks that don’t treat their customers like carnival marks?

        • huadpe says:

          No, it’s how they became national mega-banks.

          You might want to consider setting up a business account though. If you can meet the balance requirements, they tend to offer much better service to businesses, since they can sell you on things like credit card processing and the like.

          If you can’t or don’t want to do that, try a regional credit union, they tend to offer pretty low-hassle service, though you will lose access to having branches nationwide (though many do offer branching privileges at most other credit unions).

    • keepher says:

      But there is, just change your email address but before you do try to remember every account that sends email to it. Sure as the sky is blue you’ll forget one of them and it will come back to bite you in the rear end.

      We moved every year to different parts of the country. That meant my ISP also changed frequently. Trying to keep track of who was what proved to be a nightmare.

      • K-Bo says:

        That’s why I never use my ISP’s email for stuff like this. Sign up for a permanent email address.

        • IphtashuFitz says:

          And can you guarantee that gmail, yahoo, etc. will never screw up your e-mail? Just a month or two ago my girlfriend lost a ton of e-mail from her yahoo mailbox that she uses for her one-person business. Yahoo was zero help in trying to recover it. They basically admitted that there was a loss of data and nothing could be done about it.

          I’ve also recently had both an extended family member and a friend have their e-mail accounts hacked into by scammers who sent out tons of those phony “I’m stranded in a foreign country and need cash quick!” scams. I think one of them was on Yahoo and the other on MSN. When notified that the accounts had been compromised at least one of them shut down the account permanently, meaning the address is no longer valid.

          So they’re basically stuck in a similar situation as to what keepher was describing. The account no longer exists and now they have to try to track down all the companies who are sending them bills, statements, etc. and try to figure out how to get the e-mail address updated. I’m willing to bet there’s no standard method for doing that. At least with paper bills, statements, etc. there are clear and easy instructions to follow printed right on them for how to go about having your address updated.

          • Rectilinear Propagation says:

            I’m willing to bet there’s no standard method for doing that.

            It ought to be as simple as filling out an online form or calling customer service. I can’t guarantee that’s the case with BOA but as long as you can prove you’re the account holder it shouldn’t be hard to change something like the e-mail address.

          • K-Bo says:

            All my online banking accounts allow you to set up more than one email address. Also, I didn’t say that a permanent email address would solve all problems with this situation, just the oh no I switched isps problem. my 2 permanent email addresses have been with me through 7 moves/ isp changes.

          • djshinyo says:

            Yea, I’m sure a few important people are emailing shinyography@yahoo.com still even though I somehow violated the terms of service, so the account was shut down. When I asked what terms of service were violated, all I was told was that i “violated the terms of service.” No shit.

          • eddieck says:

            That’s why you buy your own domain for $10/year and use Google Apps. If Google ever terminates you for some reason, you still own and control the domain and can switch your email hosting over to another company and keep your email address.

            Really, it’s not much, and there’s no excuse to let another company control your email address. Less than $1 a month for that peace of mind is more than worth it to me.

      • Gramin says:

        Agreed with K-Bo. Get a gmail or hotmail account. I’ve had the same gmail account for years and, no matter where I move, it goes with me. And it’s so easy to hook up to my Droid X, so I get email on my phone the moment it arrives in my inbox… which is significantly faster and more convenient than receiving a paper statement.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        If you use something like Password Safe you could use it to help keep track of that as well. Make a note in the comments of each login which e-mail address is associated with each account.

      • Portlandia says:

        Why would you use the email address for the ISP? Use something like hotmail or Gmail and you can take your user account with you.

  3. KhaiJB says:

    environmentally friendly my ass.

    it’s cheaper than paper. they don’t give a damn about the environment.. just the money they’ll save.

    I bet their charges won’t go down to reflect the savings either.

    • demonicfinger says:

      well actually khaiJB they are doing this because they no longer tack on the $35 over draft fee if you use your ATM card over the counter and you hit in the negative zone. they need to find other ways to make up for that lost revenue.

      and… if by saving paper means helping the environment and saving millions of dollars for the bank… where’s the harm in that?

    • zrecs says:

      It is entertaining that you care more about a company’s nefarious reasons for taking steps to use fewer resources and less energy than you do about them doing it. Entertaining, and sad.

    • BurtReynolds says:

      I don’t have a problem with paperless. I have a problem with the way this is presented. You are forced to agree. Not only that, you are presented with this “agreement” in an almost 3,000 work document full of “legalese”. I feel like I should have consulted an attorney before agreeing to this.

      For me, this strong arm tactic might be the last straw with BofA. I’ve been too lazy to leave until now despite hating what they stand for. I think USAA and PenFed are calling my name now. Now, to figure out how to transfer my money without giving BofA any service fees.

  4. Woofer says:

    I need to have paper copies either way (I like computers but I distrust digital archives), so it’s either their cost to print and mail to me, or mine to print. If the companies that have to send me statements would a) pay me to print my own bills, b) attach bills to the e-mails as encrypted attachments instead of requiring me to login to their insecure systems and c) stopped sending me spam if I consented to e-statements, I’d go for it.

  5. cdmoney says:

    The funny thing is that banks do this – usually with the claim of being environmentally friendly. But they still continue to send you junk mail about their many wonderful services. So it’s ok to send mail when they want more of your money, but it’s not ok when it costs them something.

  6. BDSanta2001 says:

    They could easily make MORE money by charging extra to get those hard copies mailed to you.

    • hypochondriac says:

      That’s what Ametitrade does. If you want paper statements/notifications you have to pay more

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      T-mobile tried that and faced major backlash.

      • ellemdee says:

        They slipped the charge for (longer) itemized bills through without much fanfare, but the real backlash hit when they tried to charge for sending a bill at all. The funny thing is that they probably could have convinced many customers to received their bills electronically if they had approached it differently, say by offering a one-time $5 bill credit for going paperless instead of charging a fee to receive a paper bill. With what it costs to print and mail bills, they would have recooped that $5 credit in a few months, tops, and would have still saved money after that point.

  7. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    This would be fine if they wouldn’t keep locking us out of and resetting our online access over and over and over. Not entirely sure what their problem is, but we have not over the past five years been able to keep online access working for more than a single billing cycle.

    Every time they do this, they also remove my permission to talk to them about the account, and boot me from “joint” to “subsidiary” or however they handle their stuff. So my poor husband has to call and waste the time on the phone with them. (Time-wasting customer service calls are my job, not his.)

    • hills says:

      Eyebrows, I had a similar prob – turns out Mint was the cause – when Mint logs in over and over from another computer it would freeze my online acct access for both of my bank accts – so I had to wait for business hours and call to sort it out. No more Mint for me….

  8. Wild Monkey says:

    I consented a couple of nights ago and I don’t remember this being all or nothing when it came to e-delivery of everything. I can still access my online account and all my statements are still set to be mailed to me. I pretty sure that is one of the options because I would have a tough time consenting if they still weren’t going to be sending out paper statements.

  9. johnrhoward says:

    I don’t really understand why anyone would rather get something in the mail than in email. It doesn’t make any sense.

    • mbbbus says:

      I makes no sense to you.
      Fortunately you are not the universal arbiter of what makes sense; I still like paper for record keeping.

    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

      Having a hard copy to point at when your bank fucks you has more impact than something you printed out yourself at home.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      They’re worried about missing the e-mail.

      In your snail mail you get some junk but not nearly the volume you’re getting in your e-mail. Then there’s the problem with phishing attempts and viruses. You don’t have to worry about accidentally opening an e-mail pretending to be from your bank but actually has malicious code in it if you know that you don’t get e-mail from your bank.

    • esc27 says:

      Because you usually don’t get statements in email. Instead you get a notice that your statement is available on their website where if you don’t print it immediately it will purge away at whatever interval the bank uses.

  10. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    It’s a good thing all email is encrypted.

    Oh, wait…

    • Gramin says:

      It’s a good thing your mail box on the side of the road is padlocked… oh wait…

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        My mailbox is, in fact, locked. And what’s not happening is that every machine and postal employee that touches my mail isn’t potentially making a copy and storing it somewhere.

        However, thanks to informed and useful replies from RP and Mac-phisto, it’s all cleared up.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Your statements wouldn’t be e-mailed though. You’d have to log on and go to your account to download and read those.

      Granted, I’m assuming that based on my experiences with other banks but it doesn’t make sense for them to tell you not to e-mail your account information and then send the statement in an e-mail.

    • mac-phisto says:

      they don’t email you your statements – they email you a notification that your statements are available for viewing. you still have to log on to the site to view the statements. disclosures don’t contain private information, so it really doesn’t matter if they hit your email inbox or not.

  11. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    It says you have to agree to the disclosure. Does signing up for a disclosure equate to signing up for the service?

    Does anyone know what the disclosure actually says? The disclosure might not say that you’re required to get electronic statements to use Online Banking.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Ah nope, that’s exactly what it says:

      http://www.bankofamerica.com/onlinebanking/index.cfm?adlink=&context=en&locale=&statecheck=GA&template=eComm_Disc&cm_mmc=&cm_sp=

      I was thinking that they may have just updated certain things and needed people to agree to it but it specifically states that you have to agree to get stuff electronically to use Online Banking.

      • azsumrg1rl says:

        It also says: “After you consent to this eCommunications Disclosure, you will still be able to set your preferences to receive certain Communications in (1) both electronic and paper format; (2) electronic format only; or (3) paper format only. Setting your Communications preferences may not be available for all products, accounts or services.”

        And you can always request they send you a paper copy after the fact per this section: “Upon request, we will provide you with a paper copy of any Communications provided electronically by Bank of America and its affiliates to you pursuant to this eCommunications Disclosure, provided we receive your request within 12 months after the date the Communication was first made available to you electronically. You may request a paper copy of these Communications by calling us at the appropriate toll-free customer service phone number for your account, product or service.”

        That said, I’m not thrilled with this change. I *hope* that when I have to accept this disclosure that I am able to set my preferences to continue to use online banking while receiving paper copies of my statements (aka option 1 above). We’ll see.

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          Gah, I can’t believe I missed that whole 3rd section.

          But this is what I originally thought this was: they need people to accept the disclosure about eCommunications not necessarily sign up to have everything be electronic.

          It’s dumb that the disclosure doesn’t name which products and services you won’t have a choice over.

  12. StevePierce says:

    If you want a hard copy, can’t you just print it out?

  13. AllanG54 says:

    I’m a loyal BoA customer but they do things I don’t like. They’ve also started a new thing where I won’t be getting copies of my checks with my monthly statement that’s mailed to me. If I still wanted that option I would have to pay $3/mo. Seeing as how I pay nothing now I decided to go with the program but since all these new laws came about I can see how they want to jack up fees any way they can.

  14. Downfall says:

    I have a BofA credit card I never use, that has a balance of zero. It has a shitty rate (teaser expired) and no rewards. This is the last excuse I need to just cancel the damn thing.

    • Downfall says:

      Hrm, but now that I go in to see this message, it’s loading as normal for me. Maybe it’s only for bank account customers and not credit card holders? Or maybe they’re rolling it out gradually.

      • Beeker26 says:

        Yeah, I’m not getting it either, so I’m just gonna keep my fingers crossed and hope I never do.

  15. mha63 says:

    I haven’t not received any type of message like from BoA and I am big online user plus I get all my statement via snail mail.

  16. mac-phisto says:

    sorry, don’t see a problem with this. i used to be in the crowd of people that used online services but opted for paper billing. then i realized it’s way easier to save a searchable PDF to my HDD than maintain a filing cabinet full of documents.

    providing online services costs money. printing & mailing statements/disclosures costs money. when you, as a customer, want both, you’re costing the company twice as much money as the person that opts for one or the other. it only makes sense that a company choose to limit your cost as a customer to one group or another.

    really, it’s not a big deal. think of it this way: now you can have both a paper statement as well as a digital copy. & you don’t even have to walk to the mailbox to get either.

    • BigErn says:

      Agreed – “I need paper for financial recordkeeping” is a mindset mired in the 20th century. Get with the program.

    • Genocidicbunny says:

      I await the day your HDD fails (and this isnt an if, its a when) and you lose all your pdf’s.

      Before you say anything about having backups, paper is a valid way of backing up your financial statements.

      • mac-phisto says:

        1) yes, i do have backups, so i’m not worried about it
        2) you can print the statements as well if a paper backup is what you want

        here’s my question to you: where’s the backup for your paper statements? do you make a copy & keep it somewhere off-site?

        if anything, data recovery is just another reason to go paperless, not a reason against it.

  17. Prestige says:

    Don’t forget that BOA has started changing the fee structure on their checking accounts. If you DON’T bank online, it is possible that you will only quality for checking accounts with fees. I have been a BOA customer for a long time and have had no problems with them, but this does concern me.

  18. sqeelar says:

    Which word in “paper trail” don’t you understand?

    • Gulliver says:

      They make these device that you can purchase pretty cheaply. They are called PRINTERS. If you want this information, you are free to print it out at your expense. There is not need for worrying abotu changing email addresses and all the BS excuses. You can print everything from online on to a physical piece of paper. Of course self-entitled consumers think online banking, paper statements, and golden poops are something every bank should provide for you.

    • zrecs says:

      Paper. Please define!!

  19. oldtaku says:

    If you’re still using BoA you deserve everything they do to you. You know they consider you milk cows at best, scum to be crushed at worst. Is this not right in line with everything else they do? And at this point they know you’ll take because… well, you do.

  20. DanRydell says:

    Protip – if you want it on paper, you can print it yourself.

  21. DanRydell says:

    “The Library of Congress reports they’ve lost all recordings of the first 10 years of broadcast radio thanks to corruption in the data files after converting to digital”

    That’s not what the linked article says. Learn to read.

    • mad_oak says:

      Just an FYI, since I forgot that the signature on my mad_oak email account was ‘Nunya’, my comment about losing the first 10 years of broadcast radio was from a CBS news broadcast. The broadcast implied they were lost after transfer to digital. I agree that the AP article doesn’t make that connection.

  22. guspaz says:

    “The Library of Congress reports they’ve lost all recordings of the first 10 years of broadcast radio thanks to corruption in the data files after converting to digital, so why should I be happy everyone is forcing me to accept digital notification of legally binding contracts and invoices?”

    This is complete nonsense. The pertinent section from the linked article has this to say:

    “The first comprehensive study of the preservation of sound recordings in the U.S., released by the Library of Congress, also found many historical recordings already have been lost or can’t be accessed by the public. That includes most of radio’s first decade from 1925 to 1935.”

    This says nothing of corruption or data loss (the article discusses *FUTURE* risk of corruption or data loss, not past occurrences. Recordings that have been lost were lost, and it doesn’t much matter if you lose a CD or a record, you’ve lost the recording in either case. As for “can’t be accessed by the pubilic”, this also has nothing to do with recordings being digital, but that they may only exist in private collections or other places that the general public does not have access to them.

    Bank of America is doing something a bit questionable here, but let’s not go spreading uninformed FUD about digital mediums when that has nothing to do with this.

    • mad_oak says:

      Just an FYI, since I forgot that the signature on my mad_oak email account was ‘Nunya’, my comment about losing the first 10 years of broadcast radio was from a CBS news broadcast. The broadcast implied they were lost after transfer to digital. I agree that the AP article doesn’t make that connection.

  23. StarVapor says:

    Any moves like this by the large banks only serve to highlight the need for folks throughout the nation to get their money the hell out of them and deposit into you local credit unions and community banks where it can be loaned locally to help local business and their customers instead of Wall Street bottom lines.

  24. mblitch says:

    I am two -auto-drafts away from dumping BoA completely. It takes a little time to change the ulitiy accounts, but as soon as that is complete I’m going. They haven’t screwed me over in a while, but I see to many stories of how they hurt so many others and pull crap like this. I’m pulling out everything, my safe deposit box, my CDs, and all my accounts. They may not ever even notice I’m gone, but I’ll feel better about myself for no supporting this kind of place. I now us USAA credit union for most stuff (and PenFed for the rest) and am very, very happy with the service and features.

  25. Jen says:

    So, it’s “Learn how to use an internets,” or “stay off the information highway.”

    I’m happy to hear that people who can’t handle things like email are being discourage from using the internet. Makes it a better place for everybody.

  26. s0meb0dy says:

    From the picture in this story

    “What happens if I don’t agree”
    “Conversion of online statements to paper: If you’re currently paperless, future statements will now reach you via regular U.S. mail”

    This doesn’t have anything to do with paperless vs paper statements and notices. Saying this is about the environment or even cost cutting because of decreased paper statements going out is hokum. Why would they care, you are already getting paperless statements. This is their way to force an agreement on some disclosure, changing rules in their favor.

  27. bramberkowitz says:

    actually……if you consent you can go to the customer service tab and change your preference back….

  28. Mcshonky says:

    The issue isn’t that you can print it out yourself.
    The issue is that you may not get the email they send because it gets caught in some spam filter BUT by accepting their terms you agree that them simply sending it is tantamount you agree that you received it.

  29. BigErn says:

    Again…c’mon people. We should get rid of the paper. It’s good for so many reasons. Sorry if your habits are disturbed. Stop. Get with the times. It shouldn’t take a stupid bank to do this to make an obvious point.

  30. Destron says:

    You don’t have to EVER get an email to get your statement, who cares if you get the email, who cares if the spam filters eat it. I have been using paperless statements with BoA for a long time, and I don’t even get a statement in my email, I get an email telling me my statement is ready to view.

    You can log in to the BoA site ANY TIME and look at or print your statement.

    See this PIC

    http://yfrog.com/naboa1p

    Ya, that’s a pretty handy dandy little link there. And guess what? OMG you can do EXACTLY what it says you can do – you can view or print your statements!!!!! And as a special super secret bonus feature you can actually SAVE THEM!!!

    See here:

    http://yfrog.com/cbboa2xp

    All my statements, all the way back to 1998 – before I even used online banking.

    It sucks they are forcing some people to do some things they don’t want to do, but it’s not that big of a deal. I was also told for a fee, you can go to any branch and have one printed if you just absolutely have to have it and you dot matrix printer you use does not print statements very good.

    On a related note, Qwest gives me a $5 a month bill credit for opting not to use paper statements.

  31. Thorzdad says:

    I can’t wait for the story where a BoA customer tries to show that the bank made an error by presenting a print-out of their email statement, only to be told that only documents on BoA letterhead are accepted as legitimate.

  32. Zuhaib says:

    I pay 99% of my bills online so I should not care, but this type of policy really annoys me. I got burned with something like this from PG&E. A while back my father was in the hospital and had his PG&E bill due and I could not find the paper bill in his stuff so I signed up to pay the bill online. One of the requirement is you must turn off paper billing to pay online, so as I was in a rush I just went ahead and paid the bill for that month planing to turn it off. Well I forgot and he got out of the hospital and he does no bill paying online (side note, he was an Electrical Engineer at Lockheed and even help them build their Ethernet network but now hate tech) and was getting late in his PG&E bills. It was not till he called we figured out what happen then. I know it was my fault for not turning it off but its a great way to make money on late charges if someone forgets if they plan to use it only for a one time charge.

  33. peebozi says:

    I wouldn’t mind switching to electronic statements. i get a ton of different bank statements and also “prospecti” everytime something is bought or sold in my retirement account.

    All I want in return is the postage +10% credited to my account each month. why should the bank be the only “person” to benefit. Of course, for everyday I don’t receive my statement I would require a $45 convenience fee for offering the bank the opportunity to offer my statements by mail.

  34. Sarcastico says:

    What I find so maddening is that I can “turn off” receiving paper statements, disclosures, and whatnot through the mail but I cannot get the “we want to be green” bankers to quit sending those ridiculous blank checks in the mail that anyone could steal, sign and charge to my account.