When, Why, and How
Many individuals and businesses no longer get canceled checks along with bank statements. Now many financial institutions only send copies of the checks on special request. If you’ve been holding onto old checks or if you currently opt to get copies of every canceled check, this post is for you. I’ll share the when, why, and how of shredding canceled checks as well as other documents to reduce risks of fraud or identity theft.
When Should You Shred Canceled Checks
Sometimes, a canceled check is the proof you paid a bill or bought something. In such cases, the check copy should be retained as long as the record of the payment or purchase is necessary. For example, if you’re keeping your tax returns for three years, consider keeping canceled checks that backup tax documents for the same period of time. As soon as the information relevant to the check is no longer needed, the check can be destroyed. As most tax preparers provide an electronic copy of your returns, consider scanning the check and keep with those records. Of course, check with your tax professional to determine what’s the best method for you.
Why Shredding Canceled Checks is Important
Canceled checks are like a passport into your financial life for hackers and thieves. Canceled checks include information such as your full name, address, bank routing and account numbers, and signature. In some cases, checks also include your phone or driver’s license number. A single canceled check is all someone needs to drain your accounts and possibly steal your identity. That’s why shredding canceled checks is an important step to protecting your identity.
How to Shred Canceled Checks
Incomplete shredding of a canceled check doesn’t mitigate the risk. Checks are small documents. Incomplete shredding leaves strips full of valuable information — such as bank account numbers — to be pieced together by a patient identity thief. By utilizing a professional shredding service that specializes in complete destruction of documents (like Sergeant Shredder), you can be sure that all information is destroyed. It keeps this info out of the hands of hackers or thieves while you spend less time hand-feeding each canceled check into a personal shredder.
How often are you shredding canceled checks?