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Commercial bank records retention duration?

How long should a bank it keep its customers records? What is best time to keep records: 5 years 10years and are there any legal consequences if customers claim that their records have been lost?


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If the bank doesn't already have a records retention policy (I recommend checking with counsel and IT) then you may need to have the bank's counsel do some research. They would want to determine the statutes of limitations for all actions that could be brought against the bank based on those records, in each of the states where it operates or has offices and in its state of formation/incorporation.

In other words, how long do you need to hang onto this information in case you'll need it in the future to defend the bank in a lawsuit? Federal and state laws (statutes) say that a person can bring breach of contract claims only for X years, fraud claims for Y years, and so on - after that, they are barred (limited) and cannot sue because they've let time go too long before bringing the suit. These laws are different in every state, in some cases, so it takes some time to check.

The claims for which you'd want a lawyer to research the statutes of limitations would include, for example (this is not an exhaustive list), if a customer sued the bank for breach of contract, or for improper disclosure of personally identifying information or other breach of state or federal laws or rules (FTC or FDIC rules, for example), or in tort (such as fraud or misrepresentation), etc., etc. You may also need the records in the future to defend the bank against tax audits. I believe the tax issues alone might have you saving the records for about eight years. However, I'm not your counsel and there are far too many issues for an outsider to handle this. Give the question to your attorney. If it's an outside firm, ask them to have a savvy older associate do the research instead of a partner; that will save you some fees. Good luck.


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