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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 May 2004, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
Ask the expert: Bank statements
Brian Capon
Brain Capon of the British Bankers' Association

BBC News Online's Ask the Expert column gives readers a chance to have their financial questions answered.

This week, Brian Capon, a spokesman for the British Bankers' Association, helps Your Money reader Sarah Smith.

Ms Smith wants to know how long should she keep her bank and credit card statements for.

Brian Capon writes:

How long you keep your statements once you have checked them is a matter of personal choice.

There is no legal requirement on you to keep any statements.

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION?

However, if you don't keep hold of them you may find securing a mortgage or answering questions posed by the taxman tricky.

Mortgage lenders often ask to see three or six months bank statements prior to authorising a loan, so they can double check address details and income and expenditure patterns.

Taxing trouble

As for the taxman, the Inland Revenue can ask for statements going back six years. Failure to produce these can create delays in any investigation.

A cheque being written
Your bank should keep cheques for at least six years

Remember, some banks charge a fee for reproducing statements, so if you need to provide a copy for a lender or the taxman it can prove an unwelcome cost.

If you bank through the internet, you might want to print off and keep a hard copy of your statements.

It is also a good idea to check with your bank how long statements are available on-line and whether hard copy statements are available.

There could of course be other reasons for needing to refer to items that appeared on your statement some time ago, such as disputes over whether bills have been paid.

Under the Banking Code your bank should keep original paid cheques, or copies of them, for at least six years.

Early warning

Nevertheless, checking and keeping your statement should be something you do automatically each month.

Checking your statements regularly can act as an early warning system.

A quick check once a month can help guard against all manner of financial heartache.

Checking can alert you to the loss of a vital cheque, the non-payment of a bill and even the activities of a fraudster taking cash out of your account.

When you do eventually dispose of your statements, be careful how you do it.

Anything that shows your banking or financial details - and that includes credit and debit card receipts - could be very useful to criminals.

So once you have finished with your statements it is best to shred them.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by the BBC unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.


ASK THE EXPERT

 


SEE ALSO:
Banks rapped for interest rip-off
26 Feb 04 |  Business
Q&A: Preventing card fraud
10 Nov 03 |  Business


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