Your Money Question: Can a broker erase personal information?

January 2, 2008

I worry about identity theft, so when I closed my brokerage account I asked the broker to delete my Social Security number and other personal information from the brokerage's records. He told me he's not allowed to. Is that correct? If it is, how long will my personal information remain on file?

Q. I worry about identity theft, so when I closed my brokerage account I asked the broker to delete my Social Security number and other personal information from the brokerage's records. He told me he's not allowed to. Is that correct? If it is, how long will my personal information remain on file?

A. Yes, it's true. The SEC requires brokerages to keep identification information about their customers for at least three years after investors close their accounts. The rule is intended to protect investors in case they later decide to file a complaint against the firm or broker, by making sure the pertinent information is still on record.