Many of us meticulously organise our finances, with several years’ worth of bank statements and bills in chronological order in a file or folder, so we always know our personal cash flow position.
This is perhaps even more likely for sole traders, the self-employed and those in charge of any kind of business, where the principles of good accounting practice tend to get naturally drummed into you.
But many Britons simply do not open their mail, whether it is junk or something more important, according to the Debt Advisory Centre.
The organisation found that among people who admit to discarding some of their mail unopened, 80% throw away junk mail unread – perhaps not a surprise, or a cause for concern.
But 14%, roughly one in seven, do not read their bank statements – again, not necessarily a worry for those who bank online or regularly check their balance at an ATM.
Further down the list though, 9% throw away their credit card bills unread, 7% each discard utility bills and phone bills, and a hefty 21% don’t check their charges for TV services or broadband.
A surprising 7% don’t even open letters from the council and other ‘official’ organisations.
Only one in four people said they do not read the letters because they already have a good idea of what is contained within; and 15% said they avoid opening them because they expect bad news.
A further 16% admitted that they just don’t want to know how much they owe, rising to 29% among 18 to 24-year-olds.
DAC spokesman Ian Williams said: “If you visit the home of somebody with a debt problem, it is very common to see piles of unopened post.
“Once people start to struggle to repay what they owe, it isn’t just regular statements that come through the letterbox, but letters demanding repayment from their lenders, from debt collection agencies and even court papers.
“Many find it easiest to disengage with the information that they are receiving and try to pretend that everything is fine.”
For creditors, the research is a reminder of the importance of maintaining communication with debtors who might prefer to bury their heads in the sand – and of why even an official letter should be backed up with a telephone call or other form of contact, to make sure it is not simply ignored.