Easy access to important documents are key to recovering from a disaster

Easy Access to Important Documents Key to Recovering from a Disaster

By Casey Taylor, Wells Fargo Internet Services Group

In 2009, the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared 59 disasters. Eight months into 2010, 63 disasters have already been declared. At this point, most of us know that it’s not a matter of if disaster strikes, but when.

We also know that we should take steps now to prepare for a disaster, but disaster planning can be a daunting task. One of the easiest and most valuable steps you can take now is to store copies of important documents and information – insurance papers, wills, birth and marriage certificates – in a safe place. Paper documents can be ruined by water and fire, and having easy access to copies can help streamline the recovery process. Remember, for certain kinds of signed or valuable paper documents – such as wills, deeds, trusts, stock certificates, passports and powers of attorney, for example – an electronic copy often does not have the same legal effect as the paper original, so always protect your original paper documents as well as keeping copies available.

One safe way to store copies of documents is online, where you can access files from any internet connection. In 2008, Wells Fargo launched Wells Fargo vSafe, an online personal safe designed to securely store copies of important files, such as passports, tax documents and financial statements. Uploading files to Wells Fargo vSafe is easy and similar to adding an attachment to email. You can also choose to have your Wells Fargo monthly account statements, including mortgage, checking and savings account information, automatically uploaded to your account.

Wells Fargo vSafe simplifies the disaster planning process with templates to help you determine which documents to store and standard folders, such as “Legal,” “Family” and “Emergency Contacts” to keep documents organized. A file search tool and the option to add notes to documents make it easy to locate the documents. Additionally, you can store virtually any popular file format, such as Word documents, PDFs, Excel spreadsheets and photos. You can even upload audio and video files, so you don’t lose your family movies or MP3s.

Once you get into the habit of regularly uploading files to your account, you can upgrade your account as your storage needs grow. A base plan comes with 1GB of storage, but accounts can hold up to 6 GB of data, enough to store approximately 60,000 documents, or about 4,000 digital photos, or more than 1,000 music files.

Not only is Wells Fargo vSafe more secure than home filing systems, it’s backed by Wells Fargo, a symbol of strength and security for more than 150 years. Wells Fargo vSafe is available through a secure internet banking session – including individualized passwords, timed log-offs, firewalls, and continuous system surveillance and technology updates – and includes secure file transmissions and secure encrypted file storage. You can also choose to add an additional layer of security by using a RSA SecureID® device.

By protecting information in an electronically secure and centralized location, you can easily access and recover copies of critical documents in the event of a natural disaster, theft or hard drive crash, or even while traveling.

Sign up for a Wells Fargo vSafe account at https://www.wellsfargo.com/wfonline/wellsfargovsafe/signup.

About The Author, Casey Taylor

Casey Taylor is a Vice President and manager of Wells Fargo’s vSafe/Document Management services. Casey has been with Wells Fargo since 2003 and has 15 years experience in managing consumer-facing online solutions within the financial services industry, including document management, online brokerage, and mutual funds.