When in Doubt, Don’t Just Throw It Out. Shred It!

September 03, 2010

The Better Business Bureau is reminding consumers that when it comes to throwing out financial records such as credit card receipts and bills, failing to shred sensitive documents can put you at risk of ID theft.

Just recently area police have warned residents about a new heavy-handed scam where scammers posing as representatives from the credit card company threaten people over outstanding credit card balances.

The warning from Lambton OPP stated that scammers may be using information from discarded credit card receipts or bills to try to legitimize their threats.

Properly destroying sensitive personal and financial documents is key to ID theft prevention and the BBB offers the following guide on what and when to shred.

- Cancelled cheques: with no long-term significance for tax or other purposes can be destroyed after one year. However, cancelled cheques that support tax returns should be held for at least seven years. Consumers should keep indefinitely cancelled cheques that relate to documents for a home purchase or sale, renovations and other home improvements.

- Deposit, ATM, credit and debit card receipts: should be saved until the transaction appears on the statement and you have verified it is correct.

- Credit Card and Bank Account Statements: with no tax or other long-term significance can be discarded after a year; remaining statements should be kept for seven years. If you receive a detailed annual statement you should keep that and shred the monthly statements.

- Credit card contracts and other loan agreements: should be kept for as long as the account is active in case of a dispute over the terms of the contract.

- Paycheque stubs: can be shredded after the income has been reconciled with the T-4 or other tax forms.

Shred Checklist – Don’t just toss it, shred it!

*Documents that include SIN numbers, birthdates, PIN numbers or passwords
*Banking documents and other financial information
*Leases, contracts or letters that include signatures
*Pre-approved credit card applications
*Medical or dental bills
*Travel itineraries and used airline tickets.