Spring cleaning is a good time to rid your home of the clutter and paperwork you have accumulated over the past year. However, when it comes to reviewing your financial records, knowing what to keep, what to discard and when is very important.
“Many of these documents contain confidential information so safe disposal is essential,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Safe disposal is easy when you know the most effective methods and it is a positive step against identity theft.”
The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois (BBB) suggests the following record keeping and removal tips:
- Canceled checks: All canceled checks and related receipts or documents for a home purchase or sale, renovations or other improvements to a property you own should be kept indefinitely. The same holds true fro non-deductable contributions to a retirement account. Checks that support your tax returns must be kept for a minimum seven years. All other checks can be discarded after a year.
- Deposit, ATM, credit card and debit card receipts: Save them until the transaction appears on your statement and you have verified that the information is accurate.
- Credit card and bank account statements: Save those with no tax or other long-term significance for about a year, but save the rest for up to seven years. If you get a detailed annual statement, keep that and discard the corresponding monthly statements. Also, be sure to mark closed deposit accounts as such.
- Credit card contracts and other loan agreements: Keep for as long as the account is active; they may be needed in the event you have a dispute with your lender over the terms of your contract.
- Documentation of your purchase or sale of stocks, bonds and other investments: Retain these while you own the investment and then seven years after that.
To avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, be sure to shred any document that contains a Social Security number, bank account number or other personal and financial information before disposing.
The BBB offers its FREE shred day events in Northern Illinois. On June 25, our first event will be held at the United Center, on Wood St. between Madison & Warren Blvd., in Parking Lot E. For more information as well as a list of approved materials to shred, visit www.chicagoshreds.com
For more advice on safely discarding paperwork, visit www.bbb.org