I have several stacks of unused checks from a few old checking accounts of mine. How long should I keep the checks after I close each account? How should I dispose of them? Should I destroy them myself, or return them to the bank?

I am in the United States; does any of this depend on which state I live in, or on which state the bank is in?

  • Nuke them from space, its the only way to be sure. – Andy Nov 21 '14 at 0:30

Unused checks can be discarded as soon as you no longer need them. No need to return them to the bank, just tear/shred and dispose of as paper.


I find comfort in putting them into the fireplace. For the truly paranoid, there's nothing like turning paper to ashes.

  • 6
    The truly paranoid don't believe in the Second Law of Thermodynamics and irreversible physical processes. – Dilip Sarwate Nov 17 '14 at 4:39

I closed a checking account recently and was told by my banker that the bank will recognize that any check written on a closed account is fraudulent and will not accept the check. So while someone could possibly defraud a merchant, you would not be financially liable.

My bank has a secure disposal process for those who are concerned, but shredding the checks is a very good option as well.

Most check fraud is built on creating checks that look almost identical to authentic checks, and not on using your specific account number (banks' routing numbers are well known), so I would not be highly concerned about theft in this case, as the bank won't recognize the check.

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