How to Get Rid of Old Checks: A Comprehensive Guide
In this digital age, where online payments and mobile banking have become the norm, many of us find ourselves with a stash of old checks that we no longer need or want. If you’re wondering how to responsibly dispose of these outdated payment methods, look no further. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to get rid of old checks, along with some interesting facts about checks themselves.
Interesting Facts about Checks:
1. Checks have been around for centuries: The concept of checks dates back to ancient times, with the first known use of written checks appearing in Persia around 3000 BCE. However, the modern form of checks as we know them today emerged in the 18th century.
2. Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR): To ensure efficient processing, checks are printed with magnetic ink, allowing banks to use automated machines for reading and sorting. The MICR line at the bottom of the check contains the necessary information in magnetic form.
3. The largest check ever written: The largest check ever written was a whopping $9,000,000,000,000. It was issued in 2014 by a man named Patrick Combs, who received the check as a promotional item and humorously tried to deposit it in his bank account. Although the check was never honored, it gained significant media attention.
4. Checks are still widely used: Despite the growth of digital payment methods, checks are still widely used in many countries, especially in the United States. According to the Federal Reserve, there were 16.4 billion checks processed in the U.S. in 2018.
5. Checks can be a security risk: Old checks, especially if not disposed of properly, can pose a security risk. They contain sensitive information such as your bank account number, routing number, and signature. Proper disposal is crucial to protect your financial identity.
Now, let’s move on to the step-by-step process of how to get rid of old checks responsibly:
1. Cross out the information: Start by using a pen to thoroughly cross out all the information on the check, including the payee name, amount, and signature. Make sure the ink is permanent and cannot be easily erased.
2. Cut the check into pieces: Using scissors, cut the check into multiple pieces. Ensure that each piece contains a portion of the MICR line to prevent anyone from reconstructing the check.
3. Shred the pieces: Run the cut pieces through a shredder to further destroy the check. If you don’t own a shredder, you can use scissors to cut the check into tiny, confetti-like pieces.
4. Dispose of the shredded pieces: Place the shredded pieces in separate trash bags or mix them with other non-sensitive waste to make retrieval impossible.
5. Consider additional precautions: If you have a large number of old checks or want to be extra cautious, you can also consider using a professional document destruction service or burning the shredded pieces.
Now, let’s address some common questions people have about getting rid of old checks:
1. Can I simply throw old checks in the trash?
No, throwing old checks in the trash is not recommended. They contain sensitive information that can be exploited by identity thieves. Follow the steps mentioned above to dispose of them securely.
2. Can I recycle old checks?
It is generally not recommended to recycle old checks due to the sensitive information they contain. However, you can consult your local recycling guidelines or contact a professional shredding service that also offers recycling options.
3. Do I need to keep a record of the checks I’ve destroyed?
It is a good practice to keep a record of the checks you have destroyed, including the check number, date, and the account it was associated with. This can be helpful for future reference or in case of any discrepancies.
4. Can I donate old checks to charities?
Most charities do not accept old checks due to security concerns. It’s better to shred and dispose of them following the steps mentioned earlier.
5. How long should I keep old checks before getting rid of them?
It is recommended to keep canceled checks for at least three years. However, once they are no longer needed, it’s best to dispose of them securely.
6. Can I void an old check instead of destroying it?
Voiding an old check by writing “VOID” across it is a good temporary solution if you need to retain the check for record-keeping purposes. However, if you no longer need the check, it is safer to destroy it completely.
7. Can I use old checks for craft projects?
While some people may repurpose old checks for craft projects, it’s crucial to ensure that any sensitive information is thoroughly obliterated before using them.
8. Is there a risk if I throw away old checks without shredding them?
Yes, throwing away old checks without shredding them increases the risk of identity theft or fraud. Always take proper precautions to dispose of sensitive documents.
9. Can I take a picture of old checks and store them digitally?
It is generally not recommended to store images of old checks digitally, as they can still be susceptible to hacking or unauthorized access. It’s safer to dispose of physical checks securely.
10. Should I inform my bank when I get rid of old checks?
Informing your bank about the disposal of old checks is not necessary unless they specifically request it. However, it’s advisable to keep a record of the destroyed checks in case of any future inquiries.
11. Can I use a personal paper shredder to destroy checks?
Yes, a personal paper shredder can effectively destroy old checks. Ensure that the shredder has a cross-cut or micro-cut feature for maximum security.
12. What should I do if I find an old uncashed check?
If you find an old uncashed check, contact the issuer and inquire about the validity of the check. They may request you to return it or issue a replacement.
13. Can I use a check depositing app to dispose of old checks?
Using a check depositing app is not a secure method to dispose of old checks. It is better to follow the steps mentioned earlier to ensure proper destruction.
14. Is it necessary to dispose of old checks even if they are expired?
Yes, it is crucial to dispose of old checks, even if they are expired. Expired checks can still contain sensitive information that can be exploited if not disposed of properly.
In conclusion, getting rid of old checks requires careful consideration of security measures. By following the step-by-step guide and taking the necessary precautions, you can ensure that your financial information remains protected. Remember, proper disposal is crucial in this digital age to safeguard against identity theft and fraud.