Tips To Guard Your Identity …

Midwesterners, Wisconsinites in particular, are often friendly, trusting and willing to help a stranger.  But sometimes these great traits can backfire.  Here are some tips to help you remain vigilant in protecting your identity:

  • Be aware of phone scams.  The phone call from Nigeria requesting money to get a grandchild out of jail has been around for years, but some scams are less well known and seemingly innocent.  If you are contacted by a charity claiming to do wonderful work, don’t take their message at face value.  You can check to see if they are listed on the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions’ list of registered charitable stop id theftorganizations:
  • Always check your bank statements.  The only way to know if your debit card information has been stolen is to to review your debit card and credit card statements on a regular basis.  With today’s technology, you can view your account activity via mobile banking, internet banking & phone banking.
  • Be careful when disclosing your social security number & other personal information.  Some entities such as tax preparers, investment professionals, insurers and medical offices have a reason to need your social security number, birth date and other personal information.  Make sure you are the one making the contact and know who you are talking to before disclosing any personal information.
  • Be Cyber-Secure Savvy.  Ladysmith Federal has very secure systems in place to protect your personal information.  Ask us about our cyber-security preparedness!
  • Utilize a paper shredder instead of the garbage.  Be careful what you through away in the garbage.  Shred anything with your name, address or any other personal information on it.   

How Long to Keep Financial Records?

If paper de-cluttering was one of your New Year’s goals, you may be wondering which financial documents you can safely shred.  While some documents need only be kept a few months, others should be kept for several years, or in some cases indefinitely.  financial records

It’s a good idea to keep these documents for 7 years:

  • W-2 and 1099 income forms
  • Year-end bank and brokerage statements
  • Receipts or cancelled checks for deducted expenses
  • Home purchases or closing statements, insurance records and receipts for improvements
  • Records of selling of a home – keep for 6 years after the sale

You shouldn’t need to keep these documents longer than a few months:

  • Cancelled checks or their e-copies
  • Debit & Credit card receipts once you’ve reconciled with statements, unless reported as an itemized deduction
  • Monthly loan statements once you’ve received your year-end summary

You should keep these indefinitely:

  • Records or IRA Contributions (particularly nondeductible contributions)
  • Annual summaries of retirement/savings plan statements
  • Copies of tax returns
  • Receipts for big purchases – jewelry, appliances, antiques, cars, collectibles, furniture, computers – as proof of their value in the event of loss

To reduce paper clutter, you can scan your records and save them as PDF files.  Be sure to back them up!  And, before tossing any document that contains a social security number or bank account number, shred it to deter theft! 

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