Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pack Rat or Prudent Record Keeping?

I've kept paper copies of all financial transactions that I've had with banks, credit card companies, utilities and the like ever since I opened up my first checking account 30+ years ago, and to this day I maintain a paper trail of all electronic statements, electronic bill payments, canceled checks and pay stubs, filed away in boxes stuffed into attics and basements. I've always assumed that someday I'd need those records, but I never knew why.

Now I know why. The victims of Madoffs ponzi scheme are being asked to provide records:
They are asked to provide their most recent account statements, and proof of wire transfers or canceled checks showing deposits "from as far back as you have documentation."   (Emphasis added)
The form also asks for all information regarding any withdrawals or payments received from Madoff.
Supplying such records could be nearly impossible for many longstanding clients, said Harry Susman, a partner at law firm Susman Godfrey LLP. "You've got people who were investing with Madoff for 20 years and didn't keep records," he said. 

I'll bet that the people with good records come out better than the ones with poor or no records.

In an age of electronic-everything, where is the 20 year record trail that a person needs in a case like this?

By the way - if anybody wants to track dollars, therms, kilowatt-hours or BTU per square foot per heating degree day for a couple houses in Minnesota over a 25 year period of time, I've got the data. I just need to get it all out of the attic and into a spreadsheet so I can play with it.

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