3 ways to protect financial records during a hurricane

IRS spokesman gives 3 ways to protect your financial records (Sun Sentinel file)

A new hurricane season has already started and South Floridians need to plan how to safeguard their valuables -- including financial documents and tax records.

Mike Dobzinski, the Plantation spokesman for the Internal Revenue Services gives a trio of  ways to protect  yourself if a hurricane blows away -- or destroys -- years of records.

Backup records electronically.  Dobzinski recommends keeping a set of backup records, including bank statements, tax returns and insurance policies,  in a safe place away from the original set. "Even if the original record is only available on paper, it can be scanned into an electronic format," Dobzinski said. "With documents in electronic form, taxpayers can download them to a portable backup storage device such as an external hard drive, CD or DVD that you can take with you in the event that you need to evacuate."

Document valuables. The IRS spokesman joins with insurance  agents in advising South Floridians to photograph or videotape the contents of their home, especially valuables. "A photographic record can help an individual prove the market value of items for insurance and casualty loss claims," Dobzinski said. Photos should be stored in cyberspace or at an outside location. The IRS also has a disaster loss workbook, Publication 584, Casualty, Disaster and Theft Loss Workbook, at www.irs.gov, which can help you compile a room-by-room list of belongings, he added.


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Update Emergency Plans  Emergency plans should be reviewed at least once a year with financial records updated, Dobzinski said. Keep handy your insurance agent's phone number. If a disaster strikes, affected taxpayers can call 866-562-5227 to speak with IRS specialists trained to handle disaster-related issues.

dgehrke@tribune.com, 954-356-4404 or Twitter @donnagehrke

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