How To Protect Your Important Documents

The natural disasters that rocked the United States last spring reminded many Americans that sometimes all you can do in an emergency is be prepared. Important personal documents can be some of the hardest items to replace after a disaster strikes. It’s imperative to store them in a safe place and keep copies in an alternate secure location. Try following these guidelines when it comes to safeguarding your important documents:

1. Make copies of all your important documents: “deeds, titles, wills, birth and marriage certificates, passports, employee benefit and retirement documents, and Social Security cards.”[1] If you often store important documents on your computer, be sure to back up your files frequently on an external hard drive or USB drive.[2]

2. Get fireproof file box or small fireproof filing cabinet and keep it in a location that is both secure and convenient. That way, it’s accessible if you need to grab it as you rush out the door. If you are unable to reach your file box in time, you’ll know that your files are safe from fire and substantial battering.[3]

3. Here’s what to keep in your file box [1]:
Copies of important records, including property records, wills, certificates, identity documentation, employment benefit and retirement documents, and tax records.
– A list of household valuables for insurance claims. Take pictures to accompany your list. Keep another copy of your list in a secure location.
– A list of emergency contacts.
– Copies of current prescriptions and health insurance cards or policies.
– Car, home and life insurance policy numbers and insurance company contact information.
– Your bank, landlord and utility company contact information, along with your account numbers.
– Copies of keys to your house and a key to your safe deposit box.
– A check book or traveler’s checks.

3. Ask a trusted friend or family member that lives out of town to be your point of contact in case of a disaster. Give them copies of your important documents and ask that they be kept in a safe place. Let your other family members know who to contact if there is an emergency.[1]

4. Rent a safety deposit box and store copies of your documents there. You’ll have peace of mind knowing the bank will keep your documents secure. While the bank may be no more immune to natural disasters than your home, it is better equipped to safeguard your documents against theft.[4]

Along with these precautions, the FTC recommends that you learn about the likelihood of natural disasters in your area, take whatever precautions you can to protect your home, and plan an escape route that takes you out of harm’s way. Many disaster-prone locations have pre-planned evacuation routes, so be sure to check if your state has any specific procedures for you to follow.

Disasters can strike at the most inconvenient times, and you might not have the chance to grab anything as you head towards safety. That’s why it’s important for you to keep your documents in a fire proof cabinet or lockbox while storing a set of copies in another safe location. When your family is fleeing from a natural disaster, you shouldn’t have to worry about searching for important documents.

About Check ‘n Go

Check ‘n Go is the 4th largest consumer financial service institution offering online payday loans and check cashing in the United States. As a member of the Consumer Financial Services Association (CFSA), Check ‘n Go is committed to responsible lending and works with legislators to improve the credibility of the cash advance and installment loan industry. Check ‘n Go has check cashing and payday loan locations in 28 states, with online locations in an additional 3.


1. “Financial Readiness: As Critical as Fully Charged Batteries.” Federal Trade Commission. 06 06: n. page. Web. 23 Feb. 2012..

2. Cornwell, Liz. “How to Protect Important Files.” Auslogics. 09 12 2011: n. page. Web. 23 Feb. 2012..

3. “How to Protect Your Important Documents. “Redeeming Riches. 12 10 2009: n. page. Web. 23 Feb. 2012..


4. Feldman, Debra. “How to Protect Important Documents.” Better Homes and Gardens. n.d. n. page. Web. 23 Feb. 2012..

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