Tips For Home Office Spring Cleaning

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 2:20 pm, Posted by Absolute Destruction

For many Canadians, the arrival of spring coincides with the need to clean, de-clutter, and organize. As the days grow longer and the temperatures rise, there’s no better time than April to open up the windows and bring order to the space you call home. More than any other room, your home office requires a dedicated spring cleaning routine. Due to the amount of personal and confidential information that your office stores, it’s imperative you organize and dispose of documents properly.

With utility bills, mortgage and investment statements, credit and bank records, tax refunds, and every other receipt that passes your desk, it can seem like the room is a paper magnet. Since most account statements issue monthly, your desk and filing cabinet can accumulate an excessive amount of paper. For those on a spring cleaning high, this paper can be destined for the garbage bin without a proper review of their content. While this is a quick and sure-fire way of clearing your office of unnecessary clutter, it leads you down a dangerous path. By cutting corners in your record organization and disposal, you can open yourself up to financial risk and identity theft.

There are some documents that the inside of your garbage bin should never see. That includes the original copies of important records. Birth certificates, marriage licences, and wills can seem like obvious documents that you should keep a hold of, but the list also includes current and old life-insurance policies, pension plans, house deeds, and car titles. These should be kept forever in a secure yet accessible place in case you or your loved ones need to review them.

There are also documents that have a certain shelf life that you are required to keep by law. The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) suggests that you keep your old tax returns and their supporting documents for up to six years, as these can be requested at any time during this period if your file comes under review. Failure to produce past returns and their supporting documents can result in a false statement penalty which you would be required to pay. In order to avoid the stress of being audited and getting slapped with a fine, be sure to collect all parts of your past tax returns by year and file them away in your filing cabinet.

For those documents that aren’t important licences or essential to your tax returns, you still shouldn’t throw them out with the rest of the trash. Tax returns older than 6 years, credit and bank statements, and old bills and receipts have important account information that should never be left unattended. Criminals search through residential and commercial garbage in order to find confidential documents that list contact information, social insurance number (SIN), and account numbers. With this information, they can open fraudulent accounts and charge money in your name. A recent study by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) found that 1 in 6 Canadians are affected by identity theft each year, estimating a combined loss of $3 billion. Victims often end up paying out of pocket to cover the charges incurred under their name.

To ensure criminals never get their hands on an errant bank account or old tax return, schedule your spring cleaning to coincide with our one-time purge service. After you have organized your “need-to-keep” documents, our friendly and vetted staff can collect and shred the papers you’re keen to throw away. Once our mobile shredding trucks permanently destroy all of your records, we’ll issue you a ‘Certificate of Destruction’ as our guarantee your information will never be used against you.

If you’re ready to tidy up your office this spring, don’t hesitate in calling us today!

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