Record retention policies are most often geared towards businesses, but it’s important to maintain and manage personal records as well. The same disciplined, thought-out process should be used.
While HIPAA and FACTA don’t necessarily apply to personal documents stored at home, your personal files still need to be kept safe as you store them for tax returns and insurance purposes.
How Long to Keep Personal Records
One of the biggest reasons people give up or fail at personal records management is they can’t figure out how long to keep records.
Most people fall into either the save everything forever camp or the shred everything right away camp. The best solution requires a more disciplined approach.
Keep these types of records for these lengths of time:
- Credit Card and Utility Bills
- Sales Receipts not related to taxes
- Expired Warranties
Shred After 1 Year
- Bank Statements
- Pay Stubs
- Medical Bills
Shred After 7 Years
- Tax Related Receipts
- Cancelled Checks
- Records for Tax Deductions
- Tax Returns
- Birth/Death Certificates
- Social Security Card
- Citizenship Paperwork/Passports
- Marriage/Divorce Papers
- Adoption Papers
Always check with your lawyer and accountant to make sure no special rules apply to your records, and plan an annual file clean out where you shred all expired documents.
How To Protect Personal Records
Protecting your personal data is vital if you want to prevent identity theft.
Part of a well rounded retention program is proper disposal of expired documents. Outline a thorough, detailed, and strict shredding schedule for expired documents, and keep up with it.
When you keep files past their retention period, they risk getting stolen when they could have been safely shredded and disposed of. And if you simply toss old files into the trash, they can easily be stolen—putting your private information at risk.
Protect your personal information by cleaning out old records regularly, and properly shredding them before tossing them out.
Keep a Backup
As fires continuously ravage California and floods and hurricanes dismantle the east, it is clear that your home is never completely safe—even if thieves aren’t roaming your neighborhood.
Keep a copy of all important records in a second location. You can keep a paper or an electronic copy at an offsite storage facility, or use an online backup service.
The crucial point here is to store copies of your data at a separate location. In the event of an unexpected disaster, having key documents pertaining to your finances and identity will help keep you afloat.
With a bit of work you can have a streamlined record keeping system at your home. Take the few minutes to file or shred all the mail that comes in and you won’t be left with a daunting task.
When you realize there is no more space in your file cabinet it is already too late.
Need Help With Personal Records Storage?
If you would like to free up space in your house, or want your important records securely stored in a secondary location, our records storage experts can help you maintain your records storage needs. We can help you manage your hard-copy records, and even guide you through the transition to a paperless office.
Record Nations has been providing document management solutions for decades. Let us help you find the right document storage solution for you.
To get started fill out the form on the right, or give us a call at (866) 385-3706.