Simple precautions will protect your personal and corporate information if natural disaster strikes.
The fires in Alberta show how quickly natural catastrophes can totally disrupt personal and business life. Technology is now available to protect you from losing important information when disaster strikes.
On a Personal Level
Financial institutions need tangible evidence of your existence. Even if the originals of documents are destroyed, you can reassert your identity with photographs. Take pictures of the front and back of all credit cards, debit cards, health cards, social insurance cards, driver’s licences, vehicle insurance cards, etc. Keep all original birth certificates, passports, change-of-name documents, adoption papers, copies of power of attorney, living wills or other caregiver instructions as well as appraisals of jewellery, artwork, collectible or other valuable insured items in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box.
Scan and add to the safe all documents that record RRSPs, RRIFs, investment and your Notices of Reassessment for the last six years to establish your income tax history.
Take pictures of all household furnishings. Not only will these be beneficial for insurance purposes, but they will also provide you with images to use when rebuilding your new home.
Use the highest resolution on your camera or smartphone so all names and numbers can be read when enlarged.
Take pictures of assets and serial numbers.
On a Business Level
Take pictures of all movable assets along with their serial numbers. Re-establishing ownership is easier if you can prove the asset belonged to your business. Scan or take pictures of both sides of all credit and debit cards.
Scan at least one Goods and Services report or Corporate Notice of Assessment to provide the business number.
Scan all important business documents:
- loan agreements
- insurance policies
- lease agreements
- articles of incorporation and resolutions that establish shareholders, directors and officers of the corporation
- bank account numbers, credit card numbers, etc., together with passwords
- invoices for capital asset purchases
If your business is destroyed the history of your success may disappear. Your accountant and lawyer may have copies of financial statements, tax returns and contracts, but what if their business suffers the same calamity as yours? Ensure your future is supported by the success of your past. Scan all financial statements and tax returns and back them up to USB drives, external hard drives or your cloud storage. If you cannot find your past data your accountant or lawyer should be able to PDF it to your computer for transfer to your remote storage facility.
Maximize Loss Recovery
Purchase an encrypted USB drive and an encrypted external hard drive and copy all data onto them. Store the USB in your safe and keep the hard drive at some other secure location such as a fireproof safety deposit box at your bank.
Perhaps the safest storage site of all is on the cloud. There are hundreds of cloud storage services available and thus the only question is how much storage do you need and how much will it cost. Companies such as Google, I Drive, and Microsoft offer a range from five GB to 15 GB for free and expanded storage services for a fee. Dropbox Pro offers a Terabyte of storage for about $10 per month.
Use one of the many web-offered password managers to store your passwords. For about $20 a year, they are a good long-term strategy. Make sure you store the password to log on to the password manager itself in a safe place.
Physical Security of Data
Important articles stored in the basement are more likely to survive because the basement does not usually get as hot as the burning structure above. If you are going to use a fireproof safe, ensure the ratings are at least in the 1750 F (955C) ranges. The best place to store the safe is in a corner. However, any extreme heat over an extended time will eventually erode even the most fireproof safe.
Precautions Reduce Anxiety
Recording personal and business data will not eliminate the heartbreak and stress that accompany such unfathomable tragedies. The use of multiple means to back up important personal and business data, however, will go a long way to reducing the anxiety and frustration that will accompany the long process of rebuilding your personal and business lives.
Contact Argento CPA today!
Source: BUSINESS MATTERS
Disclaimer: BUSINESS MATTERS deals with a number of complex issues in a concise manner; it is recommended that accounting, legal or other appropriate professional advice should be sought before acting upon any of the information contained therein.
Although every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this letter, no individual or organization involved in either the preparation or distribution of this letter accepts any contractual, tortious, or any other form of liability for its contents or for any consequences arising from its use.
BUSINESS MATTERS is prepared bimonthly by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada for the clients of its members.
Richard Fulcher, CPA, CA – Author; Patricia Adamson, M.A., M.I.St. – CPA Canada Editor.
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