Going paperless in your business or in your home isn’t really that daunting; in fact, it could be as uncomplicated as getting efficient document scanning services from firms like Spectrum Information Services. Nevertheless, you should know that not all documents should be scanned and stored, nor should every document that has been scanned be thrown away, particularly when it comes to financial records. Here are some helpful tips:
What to Shred
As a general rule, you should always keep your financial records during the period when the IRS might request them when reviewing your tax returns – otherwise, you can shred most of them for your own security. Credit card offers, for instance, should be shredded, because identity thieves could fill them out and open a card under your name. Also, all documents listing your social security number, bank account number or other equally-sensitive files should be shredded.
What to Keep
An article in Bargaineering.com has these tips on which financial documents to keep:
- Any government issued official document – Social security cards, birth certificate, passports, etc.
- Titles – Titles of ownership to your car, home, etc.
- Insurance policies
- Tax returns – keep these for seven years, longer, sometimes. Keep the documentation that supports your tax return, including receipts for donations, etc.
- IRA contribution records – You’ll want to keep these forever as they are proof of contributions.
- Any warranties or guarantees – You’ll want to keep these for as long as you own the item warrantied/guaranteed.
What to Scan
To find out which documents you can scan, the general rule is that these should be important documents that you want to keep secured in the long term, but the original paper document itself is of little to no value compared to the content. Your brokerage statements for one, as you will need to keep this for tax purposes as well as any receipts you might have received for large purchases (televisions, home furnishings, luxury items, etc.), as you should keep them in case you have to file an insurance claim on them.
If you choose scanning services that comes with shredding your documents, make sure that the shredded pieces cannot be retrieved anymore. Just because they’re in strips doesn’t mean they couldn’t be reshaped and reconnected. This is why companies like Spectrum Information Services not only have secure document storage and scanning services but even controlled document destruction as well.
Choose document scanning companies wisely – make sure that they can scan, transfer and store your files efficiently and in a secured manner. Indeed, your scanned documents, just as much as your paper documents, will have to be protected against possible hackers or identity thieves.
(Source: Financial Documents: Keep, Scan or Shred?, Bargaineering)