Biz Bulletin: How long should you keep records

Biz Bulletin: How long should you keep records

April 11th, 2014 in Business Diary

Jim Winsett

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Q. I want to take advantage of the BBB "Shred Day" event this weekend. Do you know what personal documents I should shred and how long important documents should be retained?

A. Identity theft is an enormous fraud problem in our national marketplace. In 2013, the marketplace experienced a high level of data breach incidents where millions of consumer accounts were compromised. Additionally, at the Federal Trade Commission in 2013, the number one consumer complaint filing was personal identity theft issues. Importantly to you, there are a number of steps you can take to secure your personal information.

Sadly, over half of identity theft victims can trace the theft to something that was stolen from their possession. So here is the first rule: If you do not need it, shred it - responsibly. Better Business Bureau is urging businesses and consumers alike to take advantage of BBB's Secure Your ID Day featuring free, on-site shredding on this Friday, April 11 and Saturday, April 12.

Do not know what to shred and what to keep? Here is a quick run-down:

• Keep for three years: bank statements, expired insurance policies, employment applications.

• Keep for seven years: invoices, cancelled stock certificates, payroll records, withholding statements.

• Keep permanently: deeds, mortgages, tax returns, audit reports, insurance records, legal correspondence, property records.

Check out our full records retention schedule at http://www.bbb.org/chattanooga/get-consumer-help/identity-theft-prevention-information-and-resources/ online for more details.

Businesses, do you know how to protect your customers' data and privacy? Learn everything you need to know with BBB's "Data Security - Made Simpler", www.bbb.org/data-security/ .

BBB hosts "Secure Your ID Day" twice a year, in April and October. This spring the event is two days; Friday, April 11 at DuPont Community Credit Union, 4503 Hixson Pike and Saturday, April 12 at Lee Corners, intersection of Lee Hwy and Hwy 153. The hours are 9 a.m. to noon both days, or until the trucks are full.

Jim Winsett is president of the Better Business Bureau of Chattanooga.