Saturday, February 12, 2011

Safety of Retaining Copies of Personal Checks

I read in Money Matters that PTA treasurer should retain copies of all checks that they deposit.  These checks often have a lot of personal information on them name, address, license number and bank account numbers.  Isn’t there a risk that this information will fall into the wrong hand and be used inappropriately? 
We realized after publishing Money Matters that our advice on this issue was incomplete.  Keeping the checks for a while gives an accountability trail in case someone claims to have paid but there’s no record of payment.  It also is a way of reconciling receipts and deposits.  Most of the personal information (names, addresses, etc.) are also in the membership records and for many people also in other public records such as the phone book.  The exception of course is individual’s check routing and account numbers that are printed on the lower part of the check.   We recommend that either (1) the checks be copied in a way that obscures those numbers or (2) the numbers be marked out.  Once the financial review for the year has been concluded the copies should be destroyed.  We will include this advice in future editions of Money Matters.  Finally, of course all PTA records containing personal information should be handled carefully so as not to be subject to inappropriate disclosure.