No, it’s not safe to throw away your bank statement. Keep them until you can dispose of them properly via shredding. It’s the only way to ensure that your personal information is not stolen and your identity stolen by an identity thief.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were over 444,602 identity fraud cases in 2018. Identity fraud is on the rise, and it feels like it’s almost evitable that resourceful scammers will be able to access an old email, credit card/debit card. Properly disposing of your bank statements will make sure they can’t just fish out your information from the trash.
How long should you hold on to your statements?
If you get your bank statements and special documents every month, you should hold onto them for a minimum of one full year. You need at least that long to file your taxes and make safe calculations. Alternatively, you could also save all the important information, but if you’re seriously considering that, maybe you should opt for an online review instead.
On principle, anything that is important enough to get you a tax reduction should be saved for at least three years as the IRS rarely goes back further than that on audits.
Reasons why you might want hard copy bank statements instead of soft copy
Most banks purge their databases of customer statements every five years, so you could potentially lose information to your banking statements five years and older after some time.
Asking for printing after some time has passed can also be prohibitively expensive. Printing your statements typically takes some careful handling and wading through stiff security measures.
How to get rid of your documents
Pulping involves submerging your document in bleach and some water and allowing bleach to enhance the natural breakdown of the paper and remove the ink. For pulping, you need half a liter of bleach, about five liters of water, a bleach-resistant trash can, and some safety gloves and goggles. Bleach is very sensitive to the skin and causes an adverse reaction if you’re exposed to it for long periods. For the best results, work in batches.
Burning is a common, but effective way to rid yourself of documents when carried out properly. The fire burns the paper as fuel, but they are often not enough oxygen between multiple sheets of layered paper. And that might cause an unburnt piece to float away, potentially containing sensitive information. A simple way to deal with this problem is to burn the documents in a Stove fire or a Fireplace. There’ll be plenty of oxygen and little chance for the paper to escape.
Shred them by hand
If you have no appetite for fire, you can always shred the paper into smaller bits with a personal shredder or by hand. Note that the latter will get you better results than the former.
Pay a Shredding service
Shredding services are the safest way to dispose of your sensitive credential information if you don’t have a personal shredder.
Security shredders take care of shredding individual documents, mixing them up, and scattering them across various trashcans and districts around your local city. It is as safe as you’re going to get.