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Financial Records Safety

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Financial Records Safety

This is in regard to the article about making a Financial Notebook. How safe is putting all this personal information on a computer? I have a list of most of the items mentioned in the article, but it is in longhand. I am hesitant about even typing it in my word program on the computer. It seems like wherever you put it a hacker can access any information and steal your identity. How can you keep computer financial files safe? Thank you.

Have Adequate Computer Protection

I keep a lot of financial records on my computer, including instructions to my son about where my finances are kept, which I try to update every year or two. He gets a sealed envelope with account locations, key locations, etc. and a letter to be opened on my death.

If you have a basic firewall and even a free antivirus/antimalware system, you should be fine. If you have a router, it will have a hardware firewall, which will give you extra security. If you avoid opening emails from unknown parties, you are not likely to suffer from a hacker or spyware. You can scan your entire machine daily to be sure, although I find weekly is enough.

After you type it all up, just download it to a disc or flash drive for extra security in case of a hard drive failure. For further security, just delete the file on your hard drive after you copy it twice to your flash drive or disc.
Barbara in CT

Computer Professional's Insight on Financial Records Safety

I am a computer professional. Your file on your computer is just as safe as the paper file in your house. Many more people know how to break into a house than know how to break into a computer. However, a few rules might make sense:

  1. Make sure the firewall on you router (wireless or not) is configured properly, and the admin password is not the default. While there are instructions online and from the vendor, if you aren't confident in your computer skills, you should hire a professional to do this. Better safe than sorry. It should take less than an hour.
  2. Encrypt the file. Don't just use MSWord's password option. A crook only needs to take a copy of the file and then they can run a password cracker against it all they want. Instructions for doing this on various operating systems can be found on the Internet.
  3. If you're still not sure, then save the file to a writeable disk, memory card, or USB stick and store that in the same safe place you stored your paper file. At least if someone finds it, it will be a little harder to recognize what it is and to read it.


Save Info on a Flash Drive

The reader can type the financial notebook into Word, just save the file to a flash (thumb) drive that can be removed, and remove it from the computer once the file is saved (and store it in a safe place). After that is done, clear the history on the computer.

If the reader wants to look at or update the financial notebook again, they can plug the flash drive into a USB port on the computer and open it, taking the same precautions as previously when finished viewing/updating it.

Go One Step Further

It would seem to be a good idea to have multiple sources of records and maybe even have something stored elsewhere away from home, like a safe deposit box or with a trusted friend. If you have a motor home, travel trailer or camper, copies could be stored there as well, and would be available if you should have to evacuate quickly due to an emergency.

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