Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft When Spring Cleaning, Says Better Business Bureau

CHICAGO, ILAs the weather becomes warmer, many consumers find themselves “spring cleaning” and clearing their homes of clutter and paper. However, it is important to decide which financial records to keep and which ones to discard. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers advice on how to safely organize this information.

“This time of the year is a great time to reorganize,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “It is important for consumers to understand how to safely dispose of sensitive information.”

The BBB suggests the following 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 for non-deductable contributions to a retirement account. Checks that support your tax returns must be kept for a minimum of seven years. All other checks may 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 Chicago. On Saturday, June 21, our shred day 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

For more consumer tips, visit