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Read your Bank Statements - why bother? 3 October 2005

    A recent survey in the United Kingdom has suggested that people would rather read information on the back of a cereal box than bank statements or mortgage details.

    According to research by financial systems firm Docucorp, six out of ten people regularly ignore financial correspondence. Three out of four people said that they would rather read anything else than pensions and insurance information.

    Apparently financial data was often ignored due to poor presentation, Docucorp said with eight out of ten people saying that the information they received was difficult to understand and tedious.

    Respondents found pension information the least compelling with 68% claiming not to read details about products on offer.

    Nearly 65% of those interviewed said they were not interested in reading details about their own mortgage.

    Although UK financial watchdogs have urged banks and other investment providers to make their product information easier to understand, it is unlikely that this will happen in the near future.

    But what should people do?

    Chairman of the Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading, Quintin Gill MHK, is concerned that people may find themselves committed to financial contracts which turn out not to be what they needed. "It is essential that people read the small print" Mr Gill said "particularly if committing themselves to major financial products such as mortgages or other loans, insurance policies or personal pensions. Do your homework before you approach any financial service provider to ensure that you understand what product you need.

    The Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading website provides general advice on taking out personal loans and the UK Financial Services Authority has sound advice available on its website for people looking for other major financial purchases - although you should remember that there are some differences in the law that applies in the UK. Read information like this before you even approach a supplier so you know what you need and have an idea of what the terminology they may use means. Don't be embarrassed to keep asking questions if you don't understand anything, and remember, once you have made your choice check your statements when they arrive - don't throw them in a drawer assuming they are correct. If there is an error you may never pick it up unless you check.

    Also remember, if you are having difficulty managing your money you can contact our confidential Debt Counselling Service on 686510."

    3rd October 2005

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