My partner doesn’t have a filing system so we simply put all his papers on the shelf under the television.  I, on the other hand, have a small metal filing cabinet full to breaking of various papers, some so old they are fading right away.  My bookshelf groans with the weight of manuals for all the stuff I have bought over the years.  I have no idea what is on that shelf but, if anything ever breaks down, I am reasonable confident that I could find the relevant manual.  Let’s be clear. I loathe doing paperwork and filing even worse.  But making sure you have all those valuable papers tucked away in a handy location, is so good for you.  The location also needs to be one that you can remember and the older I get, the less I can remember!  My filing system is very rudimentary.  Alphabetical order is the way of the day and seems to work for me.  It is not a particularly tidy filing cabinet but all the various papers are there.  Of course, scanning papers and saving on the computer alleviates the need to have hard copies lying around.  I’m just not sufficiently organised or motivated to do this.

Mostly, you are never going to look at those papers again.  But, when something goes wrong, items bought fail to arrive, a payment is questioned, bits are missing, something breaks or ownership is doubted, you are going to definitely want the paperwork.  I struggle at tax time.  It costs money to have the accountant do the books, I’ve usually forgotten most of the stuff I’ve bought during the year and all of the reasons why I needed more material items.  Very rarely is there a tax refund.  But, again – great to have all those receipts on hand if required.

Late last year, I got a text message from the bank telling me that I had successfully changed my password for online banking.  Funny thing though, I hadn’t changed my password at all.  It was around 7pm so the banks were all shut.  With panic rising rapidly, I tried the after hours number and couldn’t get through.  Almost frantic by now, I rang the bank’s Fraud Hotline – I hadn’t known there was even such a thing – and told the nice lady that I hadn’t changed my password at all.

Interestingly enough, the thieves or fraudsters had known enough personal information about me that they were able to convince the banking staff they were me.  They were very good.  Professional.  They do this for a living so were experts. They had used voice disguising software and a local phone number.  Being honest and naïve, I was stunned.

So they had accessed all my accounts and had begun to move all the amounts into one account and, for the finale, had attempted to move the entire amount out into their account.  Of course, there is no way to track them down.  Thankfully, and I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I was to the bank, the bankers had picked up the strange behaviour and had put a stop on my accounts so the ratbags were able to withdraw nothing.  It left me feeling violated, dirty so think someone else had been sifting around in my online accounts.  The fraud chap at the bank was wonderful and I’ve had no issues since.  I lost no money and learned an incredible lesson.

Prior to this incident, I had thought I was really tricky if I used the month, year and put a dollar sign at the end for a password, e.g. December2019$.  This was so tricky that I could use this password for all my internet applications.  Post incident, I freaked out.  I changed all my passwords on all accounts, applications and programs, every one of them.  The passwords are now very long, very random and completely forgettable.  But I know them.  I have a program to keep them safe.

File Your Paperwork and Change Your Passwords Often.