Consumers in blissful ignorance over debt

That is the finding of new research from RBS in conjunction with the University of Bristol’s personal finance research centre, which has found a startling lack of awareness concerning financial matters.

In total, 7.4 million account holders will not open their bank statements, with just one in five aware of their bank balance within a £50 error margin.

Bristol University financial research specialist Adele Atkinson, who worked with RBS on the study, said the research “shows clearly that many people are not good at choosing appropriate financial products”.

She suggested more accessible tools could help consumers tackle their problems, but with many simply choosing not to face up to the true prospect of their debts, the data could indicate problems are being stored up for the future.

Online banking is seen as one way to stay on top of finances, meaning customers can check their statement more readily and at their own leisure.

According to the Citizens Advice Bureau, consumer debt issues have soared in the last decade – up from 405,800 in 1996 to more than 700,000 by the end of 2004.

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