How many of you get “paper” bank statements? How many you write “paper” checks to pay your monthly bills? How many of you pay your bills through automatically scheduled payments? How many of you store and save your personal information on your computers and on third party sites? And what happens to this information if you are no longer around? Can your family get access to it?
According to a 2011 Census more than three-quarters of all Americans owned a computer. That number increased to nearly 90% of all Americans who had a bachelor’s degree or higher. Today, the vast majority of the population owns a computer and with it, what are now referred to as “digital assets”.
A digital asset has been defined as “information created, generated, sent, communicated, received or stored by electronic means on a digital device or system that delivers digital information.” In common parlance, digital assets include personal information contained in:
- Online accounts with financial institutions (e.g. banks or credit card companies)
- Social media accounts such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, where a third party allows the account holder to store personal information
- Online accounts with forums such as Amazon, eBay or Craigslist, that not only allow users to buy and sell but facilitate such transactions with on-line currency accounts such as Paypal.
- Reward programs, such as frequent flyer miles or reward points.