Who do I hire to scan and organize my paperwork?
December 16, 2017 10:43 AM   Subscribe

I have to prepare a large number of financial documents in a short amount of time. Who can I hire to help me with the legwork in a timely basis?

Unfortunately, my documents are all in disarray, unsorted, and undigitized. I must do some post-processing on transactions in financial account documents so these should be put in a digital form.

I live in Vancouver BC.

I would like to do the following:
- Send about three boxes of papers to a third party to digitize
- The papers should be sorted. Financial accounts should be easily identified, have their scans placed together and ideally account information aggregated over time (annual statements would do).
- Credit card and account statements should preferably have OCR done so I can do something with the transactions in Excel later
- Original documents of value (University transcripts, diploma, immigration papers, etc) should probably be preserved in paper form. There are few of these. The remainder should be shredded.

Who should I contact to do this for me? And also how much should I expect to spend?

For bonus points: is there somebody that I can call that can go to banks/credit card companies for me and make calls to see if it is possible to get digital copies of historical statements (I've been asked to go back years)? It is hard for me to make these calls during business hours.
posted by crazycanuck to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know anything about sending such things away for this to be done, but a professional organizer can sort papers for you. They could probably pick the boxes up and do this elsewhere. Some may offer scanning services

You might need an accountant for some of this, or you could probably pay an accountant for the whole thing but it would cost more.

You should look over the "original documents of value" before the other things are shredded, it's possible that someone else might not make the same determination of value that you would.

For someone to make phone calls and visit offices on your behalf, the person you want is a personal assistant. If it can all be done over the phone with no office visits, it's easy and fairly inexpensive to hire a remote personal assistant.
posted by yohko at 11:01 AM on December 16, 2017

I would like to do the following:
- Send about three boxes of papers to a third party to digitize

I understand that you'd like to find an individual that you could just contract this all out to, but given the lack of response ... in terms of the digitizing, have you considered just bringing it all into a copy shop and leaving it with them? There's a cluster of small mom + pop type photocopy places* around Burrard + Broadway. I suspect one of them would would take it on for a reasonable price.

* just google "photocopy - Broadway - Burrard"
posted by philip-random at 11:05 AM on December 16, 2017

I have instructions from my lawyer and accountant on the post-processing needed for the papers that I can share with the organizer. I would like to follow their preparation instructions before sending the documents back in the interest of economy.
posted by crazycanuck at 11:06 AM on December 16, 2017

I recommend a professional document scanning service.

I strongly recommend you start annotating these documents now e.g. by attaching a typed sheet with keywords on each batch of papers. This will make it much easier to search through when they are in digital format.

Secondly, whoever you choose, do a pilot run first by choosing 2 or 3 batches and see if the end product meets your expectation.
posted by jacobean at 12:28 PM on December 16, 2017

Three boxes worth? I'd guess for the amount of work you want done and the amount of hours it would take, that's gonna run you at least $2,000 - $3,000 probably more. You could save money by pre-sorting and organizing the documents first and placing them in separate folders. i.e. bank statements, credit card statements, etc and having them pre-labelled.

Another option is to buy a document scanner like the Fuji ScanSnap and do it yourself. This is what I do and I highly recommend it. Once you get a handle on the backlog, it's a breeze to stay on top of other documents you might need copies of later. It also has the advantage of being organized and labeled according to your own specifications and, more importantly, you reduce the risk of your financial information being compromised by unscrupulous employees. I would definitely not recommend just dropping off boxes of sensitive data at a copy shop or similar. I'd look for a professional service that is licensed and bonded and grill them on what kind of security measures they have in place for protecting your sensitive documents and the resultant data.

As to you bonus question, I highly doubt any bank will release your financial data to a third party, even an assistant, unless that person were impersonating you on the phone and knows all of your account information and security questions. That's a risk you really shouldn't take. I've had success both calling or writing to my banks to request historical data. There's usually a fee involved, but they've all done it.

As for shredding, there are shredding companies that can do this for you; some are mobile and will come to your home. My bank offers this service for free.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 2:50 PM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

To clarify, for a personal assistant I'm assuming some sort of power of attorney would be involved. I don't know much about Canada so perhaps POA is not available there though.
posted by yohko at 3:23 PM on December 16, 2017

For credit card and bank statements, have you tried just setting up online access? Or do you mean they are requiring phone calls for that? You can get historical account data that way in an organized way and just dump those paper statements to avoid tediously sorting and organizing them. Apologies if I'm stating the obvious.
posted by JenMarie at 8:39 PM on December 16, 2017

I have online access to some (not all) of these accounts. The credit card accounts in particular go back only 1 year, I need about 5. Some of the accounts are closed.

I am prepared to pay $$ for this task. I have tried to do this myself and I just get overwhelmed at the task magnitude. I have a month to do it, I have a full time job, single mom thing, and Christmas to do - this just isn't getting done and I need help.

I put out feelers for professional organizers and requested a quote from a document scanning service. We'll see what they come back with.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:44 AM on December 17, 2017

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