How to Better Manage, Store and Securely Destroy Important Documents

Mismanaging important personal or financial documents can lead to no end of problems. Ensuring that all tax information, pay stubs and statements that may contain financial or account information are kept on hand for as long as they are needed, and that they have been properly and securely disposed of as soon as they are not, are matters that should never be left to chance. Proper organization and professional shredding and document destruction services can both play an important role in keeping important data and documents safe and secure.

Monthly Bill Payments and Minor Transactions

A good rule of thumb is to keep all utility bills, and bank statements for at least one month. Short-term storage is ideal for records and documents that are unlikely to be needed or that may be easily reproduced should the situation warrant. Simply throwing away old bills or bank receipts rather than arranging to have them shredded can be a recipe for disaster. Professional residential shredding is essential for ensuring that sensitive information does not fall into the wrong hands.

Pay Stubs and Annual Statements

Documents that provide proof of earnings and income as well as account statements that span more than one billing period and may be used in lieu of multiple monthly documents should be kept for up to 12 months. Pay stubs and other proof of income may be required in order to verify tax information and documents and disposing of them prematurely could lead to unnecessary complications.

Tax Documentation and Major Financial Transactions

Any forms, documents or records that pertain to end of year tax preparation need to be kept for a period of three to seven years. Being the target of an audit can be arduous and unpleasant under even the most ideal circumstances. Situations where important documentation cannot be located or reproduced can make an unpleasant situation that much worse. Any records that were used in order to prepare taxes should be stored securely and kept for up to seven years after the return has been filed.

Safeguarding Personal, Financial and Account Information

There are some documents that should never be destroyed. Mismanaging personal and financial records could increase the risk that a previous year’s tax return, major financial statement or a warranty plan or similar document may be accidentally destroyed. While shredding documents that may no longer be of use is essential for safeguarding personal information, ensuring that hard copies of key documents or essential records are kept in a safe or lock box may be just as important.

Scanning, Duplication and Backups

Digital storage of paper documents can vastly simplify the process of storing and accessing previous records. Transferring hard copies of records to a digital format often means that paper records can be destroyed. Many businesses are implementing these practices so commercial shredding of old records once they have been scanned and saved is an important safety precaution, just as ensuring that all digital records are able to be stored properly in order to reduce the risk of a data breach

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