Our mailboxes are emptier and our email inboxes are full. In the new decade, almost everyone has converted at least something in their lives to a virtual version. As consumers navigate the waters of transitioning to paperless documents, often the last switch they make is in their finances. Virtual credit card statements, letters from the bank and account updates may have bank clients wondering if paperless finances are a smart idea.
Chief Operations Officer Shelly O’Neill of Emery Federal Credit Union has some tips on maintaining privacy and security in our digital age. Her recommendations include rethinking your social media presence to prevent identity theft, keeping paper documents for the correct amount of time before shredding them and carefully considering what documents you still need to have in “hard copy.” EmeryFCU.org
Identity thieves love your social media accounts
One of the fastest-growing “businesses” is identity theft, and you may be helping thieves along by providing such ease of access to your information, life and whereabouts. O’Neill revealed some staggering rates: "identity theft has increased an extraordinary 175% over the past decade.” However, she also says going paperless can secure your information by reducing the number of hands that touch a physical statement.
Save documents the recommended time, even if they are virtual
So you’ve switched everything to electronic paperwork. Should you shred all of your old documents? Not exactly, O’Neill says. In the short term, keep on hand household bills and expired insurance policies. Keep tax returns, bank statements, expense and income records and paid-off loan documents for six to seven years. Preserve long-term documents like social security, retirement and medical papers.
You still need some physical copies... forever
Some papers should never be discarded or converted to electronic copies (at least not as your only copy). Preserve the following indefinitely, O’Neill recommends:
● Birth/death certificates
● Social security cards
● Pension plan documents
● ID cards/passports
● Marriage/Business licenses
● Insurance policy
● Wills/powers of attorney
● Vehicle titles and loan documents
● House deeds and mortgage documents