Am I safer receiving e-statements than receiving paper statements?

Paper statements are often cited as a leading cause of identity theft, because someone can take them from your mailbox or trash and steal your personal information if you don’t take the time to shred them.  Electronic statements are a good alternative, but there are some precautions to take.

It is safe to receive electronic statements, which typically involve logging on to your bank or other provider with a secured Web session.  (To stay secure online, see our article, How do I make sure a Web site is safe when I shop online?).  

The long-term storage of these statements on your computer is a different issue though; you need to be sure no one can ever get access to those files through spyware.  (See, What is spyware and malware?)  You should consider encrypting the files, which scrambles the data and requires a password to unlock it.  (Search file encryption in your PC’s operating system help.)  

Also, take additional precautions when disposing of the hard drive, so no one can ever read it later.  (See, Is there a way to erase all of the information on my PC hard disk?)