As the electronic age has started to take over more businesses, much of the information that used to be stored on paper is now done so on hard drives and other devices. However, even with this transformation within business, most still have numerous receipts from credit card transactions. With the number of receipts still growing, many companies are looking for ways to store or dispose of receipts.
How Long Should Receipts Be Kept?
Customers who pay by credit or debit card have up to 18 months to dispute any charges on their bill. Therefore, it is imperative that all credit card processing receipts be kept this period of time at a minimum. This can become important when a dispute arises, because if a merchant does not have the receipt as proof of the purchase, the credit card company can side with the customer and force a refund to be paid. Likewise, the credit card company can also debit a merchant account for a charge-back.
Credit card receipts contain sensitive information that identity thieves can use to make illegal purchases on the accounts of unsuspecting customers. To guard against this, most companies have very strict rules when it comes to receipt storage. For companies that keep hard copies of credit card processing receipts, the Federal Trade Commission recommends storing them in a locked room or file cabinet. In addition to this, the number of employees who have access to the information should be limited to management personnel only. Companies that keep digital files should make sure the files are not only encrypted, but that parts of the encryption keys are given to two or more employees. This way, no one person can access the file alone.
Businesses with merchant accounts, after having kept receipts an acceptable period of time, often decide it is safe to have the receipts destroyed. Just like storage of receipts, the Federal Trade Commission has established general guidelines for receipt destruction. According to the FTC Disposal Rule, companies with merchant accounts should at a minimum shred all receipts, and in most cases burn them as well. For those with digital files, using a security program that deletes and rewrites the file until it is unrecognizable is recommended.
By following these guidelines, companies with an excess of receipts should be able to reduce their vast amounts of information while keeping customer’s sensitive information protected.