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When are you comfortable throwing out account statements?

How many years after an account has been closed (i.e. checking, credit card, brokerage accounts, not accounts like utilities, auto/home insurance, etc.) are you comfortable throwing out (trash, not recycling) the statements vs. shredding them? "Comfortable" here is with respect to identity theft worries, not taxing authority worries.
Finally time to attack some of the attic clutter and among other things are statements going back to 1987. So the stack of potential shreddables will be very tall. (I of course will be keeping all tax returns and will be keeping supporting documentation for the past six years' returns).
(Though I suppose the best thing is to probably just play it safe and bring everything to a reputable bulk shredder. Too bad my town doesn't allow outside burning, though...)
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Rich Carreiro                            rlc-news@rlcarr.com
Reply to
Rich Carreiro

Got to agree here. These days, enough banks and communities sponsor free shredding days, that it seems easiest (and cheapest) to just wait for the periodic event. Everything is piled in your attic anyway, just create a new pile.
That's what I did last year when I scanned and discarded documents dating back seven decades (though like you, my major collection started in 1987). This included parents' documents that we'd never sorted through (and these in turn even included tax returns of my father's parents). Is is safe to simply discard papers just because someone is deceased?
Side note on the tax side - I don't believe one can blindly discard docs after six years. There's the obvious - cap gains - you need the purchase documentation. But also home improvement expenditures (again for dealing with potential cap gains). Then there's the possibility of using a prior year's medical expenses to justify an HSA withdrawal. To document that, one needs not only the bill (or other proof of service) and check/credit card statement (proof of payment), but also proof that the expense wasn't already itemized (meaning all 1040s, or at least all Sched A's from the year of service until today - can't get rid of any of the tax returns).
Reply to
Mark Freeland
Never, because it would take too much time to review the documents to figure out if there's anything useful on them. It's a lot easier to just shred it all.
As an example, old documents used to have stuff on them that is no longer allowed - e.g. full SSNs. Some health insurance used your SSN as your ID number! So all you need is a check for a premium payment noting your account number and someone gets your SSN.
-Tad
Reply to
Tad Borek

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