Is It Safe to Throw Away Old Bank Statements?

Posted on: March 31, 2020

Do you have years of old bank statements lying around? You may be ready to throw them out, but you’re not sure how. Is it safe to throw away old bank statements, or do you need to shred them first?

According to the Federal Trade Commission, you should shred documents containing sensitive information, including bank statements, to protect yourself from identity theft. Follow these guidelines to help you know what to shred and when.

Shred Immediately

Some documents don’t need to be saved for any length of time. Shred the following items as soon as possible:

  • Sales receipts (unless you need them for tax purposes; in that case, scan them first)
  • ATM receipts
  • Packing slips and online purchase orders
  • Canceled and voided checks (that aren’t tax-related)
  • Utility, internet, and cell phone bills (once paid)
  • Credit card, insurance, and bank account solicitations that come in the mail
  • Expired warranty coverage
  • Correspondences from the DMV or IRS (once settled)
  • Travel-related materials (besides your passport)

Shred After One Year

Hold onto some documents for up to a year before you shred them. While in your possession, store them in waterproof bags. Better yet, lock them in a safe. Once you no longer need them for tax or insurance purposes, shred the following documents before throwing them away:

  • Bank statements
  • Credit card statements (once paid)
  • Pay stubs (once checked against your W-2 for accuracy)
  • Medical bills (once paid and free of insurance disputes)

Shred After Seven Years

The general rule of thumb is to keep tax records for seven years. That’s how far back the IRS can look if you’re ever audited. After that, it’s best to shred your documents so they don’t accumulate to an unmanageable level. The paperwork you should hold onto for seven years—and then dispose of by shredding—include:

  • Tax returns
  • W-2s
  • Tax-related receipts and canceled checks
  • Records for any tax deductions you took
  • Other tax records

Shred at the Correct Intervals

There are plenty of other documents containing sensitive information that you should keep for an allotted period. Then, when the time comes, dispose of them safely by shredding:

  • Auto titles (keep for as long as you own the car)
  • Home deeds (keep for as long as you own the property)
  • Disputed medical bills (keep until the issue is resolved)
  • Home improvement receipts (keep until you sell your house and pay any related capital gains taxes)

Keep Forever

You should hold onto some personal documents forever. Keep them in a safe place, alongside the papers you store temporarily. The items to never throw away include:

  • Birth certificates
  • Adoption papers
  • Social Security cards
  • Marriage certificates
  • Divorce decrees
  • Citizenship papers
  • Passports
  • Death certificates

For those of you thinking, “Maybe I should keep everything, just in case,” remember—identity thieves can’t get data from documents you have destroyed. By shredding outdated documents with sensitive personal information, you reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim.

If you have a stockpile of sensitive documents that need to be disposed of quickly and securely, consider residential and commercial shredding services from TrueShred. We provide both one-time bulk shredding and ongoing shredding services to customers in Virginia, Maryland, or Washington, DC. Our mobile shredding trucks bring the service to you! This way, your sensitive documents have no chance to fall into the wrong hands before they are safely destroyed.

For confidential document destruction in VA, MD, and DC, contact TrueShred today.

 

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