Spring Cleaning? Advice From BBB To Avoid ID Theft

September 24, 2009

Spring is here and now is a good time to rid the house of paperwork that has accumulated over the past year. Better Business Bureau warns that, when it comes to cleaning out financial records, failing to shred sensitive documents can put you at risk of ID theft.

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-it 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.

For more advice from BBB on preventing ID theft and what to do if your identity is stolen, go to www.bbb.org.