Spring Cleaning – the Safe Way

Thursday, April 21, 2016 7:45 am, Posted by Absolute Destruction

Spring has officially sprung in the GTA, and we’re welcoming it with open arms. Though this past winter was unseasonably warm, it was still too cold for our liking. Now that the days are longer and the temperatures are finally in the double digits, many of us are swinging open the windows and letting that warm breeze flow through our homes.  The fresh air will certainly aid in clearing out winter’s bad humours, especially as you start your annual spring cleaning. As you move through your rooms, remember that your home office requires a more discerning cleaning routine than the rest of your house. It’s home to personal and confidential information, so you need to clean, de-clutter, and organize your office with care.

If it’s been awhile since your last clean through, your office can be quite the challenge this April. Utility bills, financial statements, records, receipts, tax refunds, and other miscellaneous documents can take up space on every flat surface, and these towering stacks of paper make your task daunting. You may be tempted to sweep all of these files into an awaiting recycling bin to save on time and stress, but we wouldn’t recommend you do that. Without reviewing their content first before you throw these papers out, you could be setting yourself up for financial mistakes and identity theft.

While some of the receipts you kept out of obligation can see the inside of your recycling bin without any risks, there are other documents that should never be thrown outperiod. The original copies of your birth certificate, will, marriage license, and mortgage should be taken from these piles and filed away in a cabinet or desk drawer. You should also keep a hold of car titles, life and auto insurances, investments, and pension plans, taking efforts to file them away with labels so you know where to look when you next want to review them.

Next up are those documents that you need to keep but only for a little while. As we mentioned last month, the Canadian Revenue Agency requires you to retain your old tax returns and any supporting documents for 6 years after you file. The CRA reserves the right to review any return within those 6 years, and if they do, they will request to see any associated paperwork. Should your file be audited and you can’t provide these documents, the CRA may fine you for filing a false statement. Being reviewed and finding out you need to pay a fine because of your poor bookkeeping doesn’t feel good. Avoid the stress of owing the CRA by keeping your tax refunds organized properly for the appropriate time frame.

Once you clear your desk free of the “keepers”, it’s time to turn your eye towards what you need to discard. Some of these documents should never leave your office in an average garbage or recycling container. Those tax returns that exceed 6 years, as well as credit and bank statements, prescriptions, bills, and any other file that shows important contact or account information should never be thrown out with the rest of your recycling. Thieves target residential recycling and garbage bins to find these kinds of documents, as the confidential information they hold can be used to open up fraudulent accounts.

According to idAlerts Canada, the average victim of identity theft ends up paying $2,000 out of pocket to recover from these thefts. Being liable for expenses you didn’t make feels a lot worse than owing the CRA. To make sure you never have to pay for charges made in your name, let us help you with your spring cleaning. Our one-time purge document destruction service can ensure any file you wish to discard is incinerated entirely within our mobile shredders. We’ll even give you a “Certificate of Destruction” as proof that our shredding services will make it impossible for criminals to retrieve your information! So give us a call as you embrace your spring cleaning schedule.

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