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How to Dispose of Old Checkbooks

There are many reasons why you might have old checks or checkbooks laying around the house. Maybe you moved or got married and ordered new checks to reflect those changes. Maybe you closed a bank account. Or maybe you’ve kept old used checks around for tax purposes as recommended by your tax advisor. Whatever the reason, when it comes time to get rid of them, you should treat them like any other financial document and dispose of them properly.

Throwing them directly in the trash or recycling isn’t a good idea because a checkbook contains a lot of personal and financial information about you that can get misused in the wrong hands, such as your name, address and account numbers. Cancelled or returned checks may contain even more information, such as driver’s license numbers, birth dates, social security numbers or anything else the business you wrote the check out to may have needed to properly cash it.

If you can’t just throw it out, what do you do? Here are three simple options to choose from that will keep your financial data safe.

1) Shred them
The easiest and most efficient way to get rid of your checks is to shred them. If you have a motorized shredder at home, you can easily shred many checks at once. Some banks or local businesses also offer shredding services if you don’t have one handy. Another option would be to manually “shred” them by cutting them up with your scissors. If you do go that route, be sure to take the time to cut them up in a way that would make reassembling the checks difficult such as using various angles and widths in your cuts. Shredding scissors can speed up the task.

2) Burn them
We recommend doing this safely, but if you have a fireplace or fire pit, you can always toss your old checks in there. There is no risk of anybody putting the checks back together once they’ve turned to ash. Be sure to check local burning regulations, maintain a safe and containable fire to avoid flare ups and make sure the fire is completely extinguished before you abandon it.

3) Use water to break them down
There are several ways that water can be used to destroy your checks. One such method is to run them through the washer. We recommend putting the checks in a canvas bag to contain the debris and avoid a mess in your washer. Whichever method you use, the goal is to destroy the checks in a way that doesn’t give anybody the ability to use that information to attempt to steal your identity. Looking for even more peace of mind? We offer several check security options that help prevent fraud. Securiguard® Checks have 7 advanced safety features, including:

  • Chemical Protective Paper
  • Microprint Signature Lines
  • 2-dimensional holographic foil - irreproducible on copiers or scanners
  • Security Screen - Absence of "Original Document" verbiage on back of check
  • Padlock Icon

Our SentryShieldSM Check Fraud Protection Program + Identity Restoration Pro can help you protect your information and help restore your identity if identity theft occurs. SentryShieldSM can be easily added to your order during checkout.