The account statement, also called bank statement, allows you to keep a legal record of the transactions carried out on your account (debit or credit). In the event of a dispute with your bank or a creditor, you should know the retention period for account statements. In this article, discover your obligations as well as those of your bank in this regard. Everything you need to know to avoid unpleasant surprises!
What is an account statement?
An account statement or bank statement is a document that shows the list and dates of money inflows and outflows from your account during the past month. The list follows a chronological order.
The document contains:
- a credit column with credit transactions;
- a debit column with debit transactions;
- and for each column, you have the nature, the amount, the transaction date and the value date of the transactions;
- the account balance on the statement date;
- a summary of bank charges;
- the contact details of the bank’s customer service and mediator if necessary.
Thus, every month, your bank sends you a statement of account. The sending can be done by mail or directly by Internet, from your personal space. It is then an e-statement or dematerialized statement.
When you receive your bank statement, check the debits to avoid any anomaly (fraudulent credit card debits, agios, etc.). Also make sure that the amounts indicated correspond to your expenses incurred during the month.
How long should I keep my account statements?
Your bank statement shows no anomaly. Although the temptation is great to throw it in the trash, it is advisable to keep the document for at least 5 years. This delay allows you to keep track of where you may be exposed to litigation.
But why 5 years? This is the five-year limitation period generally applicable in civil matters (article 2224 of the Civil Code). This also corresponds to the time you have to make a complaint to your bank in the event of an error (debit of unjustified charges, for example).
You must therefore ensure that you keep your account statements throughout this period, especially if a transaction proves likely to be the subject of a claim. For example, if you have lent money to someone you know without first establishing an acknowledgment of debt.
Note that the 5-year term is a minimum period. You can keep your bank statements beyond that. If you have carried out a major operation such as the purchase of a house, it is advisable to keep your document for 30 years or without a time limit.
Note: an account statement scanned by you in order to keep it in digital format will have no legal value in the event of a dispute. You need the original version.
Also Read: How Long Can a Bank Account Be Inactive?
How long does the bank keep account statements?
Banks are also required to keep documents about you. And account statements are one of them.
However, there is no regulatory retention period. The time frame depends on the bank. Usually, it varies between 5 and 10 years.
On the other hand, your bank may legally retain all records relating to your account for a maximum period of 10 years after closing your accounts. Before the end of this period, you can therefore at any time ask the establishment to obtain a copy of a bank statement.
lost account statement, what to do ?
You can no longer find your bank statement and you need it? Note that your bank can provide you with a copy. Contact her to submit your needs. And if ever you are not satisfied, it is also possible to make a request to the Banque de France.
Please note that this is not a free service. Banking establishments in the same way as the Banque de France often charge for the sending of a second bank statement. Before calling your bank advisor, search your house thoroughly!
Other evidence in the event of a dispute
Apart from the bank statement, there is the check stub which may possibly constitute proof. In any case, consulting your stubs will be useful for you to find the name of the beneficiary, the amount of the sum paid, the number and the date of issue of the check. A first step in your search…
Moreover, the minimum retention period for check stubs is similar to that for statements, i.e. 5 years. Before you get rid of it, think carefully!
On the other hand, you also have the money payment slips which constitute proof. Again, it is recommended to keep them for a period of 5 years.
Read also: Closing a bank account: free termination letter template