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How can your bank help you go paperless?

Mind Over Paper

If you have any fears or reservations about banking online, friends and family can share positive experiences and urge you to make the switch, but your bank may be the best place to find reassurance about going paperless. Financial institutions have spent vault-loads of money building networks and systems to handle customer transactions and they know how quickly they can lose their reputations and clients if security is breached.

Most bankers are more than willing to talk with you about the technology on the back end -- the encryption and firewalls their customers deserve. It is the right of every customer, from the small savings account holder to the corporate CEO to know what kind of lock is on the safe. Asking specific questions about how they protect your money may help ease many fears about how -- and how often -- people who bank online lose money.

Banks can help you by explaining security and equipping you to use the best practices for safe online banking. Sitting down with a bank representative is well worth the time if you need some reassurance about virtual money management. Most customer service specialists can walk you through setting up the best passwords, watching out for scam Web sites or fake landing pages when accessing information, and selecting and setting up home security to keep hackers and viruses at bay.

Better yet, banks can help you go paperless by giving you the confidence to take advantage of online banking without fear. Most financial transactions happen in the virtual or online world already -- and have for a long time -- but customers have had paper to connect their activities with what happens "at the bank." Letting go of some of the paper actually can improve security because there is less of a paper trail with your personal information. Your online information already exists there as an account holder with any computerized institution, and it has, for the most part, been much harder to get to than paper records.

Once you achieve mind over paper, how can you wrap your head around paper-less filing? We'll look at how a folder is just a folder, whether it's paper or not, next.