Those between the ages of 18 and 24 are the least likely to read terms and conditions before signing a financial agreement, according to new research by reclaim PPI company Canary Claims, with a survey of over 1,200 participants.

The figures revealed that only 25 per cent of 18-to-24-year-olds read terms and conditions (T&Cs). Of all the respondents, only 32 per cent answered that they always read T&Cs and 26 per cent claimed that they ‘sometimes’ do.

T&Cs are now an integral part of our daily lives. From signing up to a website to buying a product with a return policy, we are forced to read the small print to understand exactly what we are agreeing to and where our information is going. This should be more transparent than ever when the GDPR regulations come into force in May.

Yet, a staggeringly low amount of people actually always read the T&Cs — and it’s no surprise why. It would take 76 working days to read all of your privacy policies. Not only are T&Cs lengthy, but it’s not an enjoyable read, or full of easy-to-understand language, either.

This is a real problem for financial agreements, which hold key information about accounts and products. The terms for savings accounts, credit cards and loans hold key information about repayments, interest and much more.

Out of everyone polled, those over the age of 65 were the most likely to read the T&Cs, with nearly 50 per cent saying they do read the terms when signing a financial agreement. While it is not clear why the older generation is more likely to read them, it could be due to previous experiences, or distrust in the banks following the financial crash.

The Effect: More PPI Claims? More Mis-Selling?

The concern with people not reading terms and conditions is that they may be getting themselves into something which they can’t easily get out of, or end up paying money for something they don’t remember agreeing to. All it can take is one small line added to the small print to leave customers with problems later down the line.

This is how the PPI claims saga unfolded. Unclear terms and conditions coupled with misinformation from employees about PPI caused people to buy the product in the first place. For many consumers using PPI claims companies to reclaim PPI, it’s important to once again read the terms and conditions to uncover how much of the fee you could be charged for a successful claim. Many people are paying claims companies huge sums of money, while other companies are much more transparent about their fees.

What Should the Banks do?

Distrust in the banks is still very low, despite 60 per cent of the UK believing that banks use difficult to understand language. As well as financial scandals, banks are adding astronomical levels of commission to sales, which is often not disclosed. This was another aspect highlighted during the PPI scandal which has increased PPI claims and increased the amount paid out by the banks.

To make T&Cs easier for people to read, banks and lenders need to cut down the amount of complex terminology. If banks aren’t making it easy for consumers to understand their language, this is a problem and it’s their responsibility to change it. While people not reading T&Cs may benefit the banks, it is the consumers who ultimately lose out.

For more details about the survey, please visit the Canary Claims website.