Difference Between Single Checks and Duplicate Checks


A checkbook holds 20 to 30 checks bound together into a small book. Duplicate checks look the same as regular checks, only behind each check is a sheet of thin paper. This thin paper contains the spacing for all of the check information, such as payee, amount and date. However, no sensitive information such as account numbers are printed on the duplicate. When a check is written, the information is transferred onto the duplicate paper exactly. Duplicate checks can be carbon copies or carbonless copies, depending on which company makes them.

How to Dispose of Check Carbon Copies

You can get rid of check carbon copies through the

You can get rid of check carbon copies through the following ways:


Paper is rendered unsalvageable when it is burned into ashes. Burning check carbon copies is a more efficient and secure method of destroying them. It’s one of the simplest and safest ways to get rid of your check.

However, burning check carbon copies must be done with extreme caution since a single out-of-control fire may bring a slew of problems. It’s better to burn a single copy at a time, either in a firebox with no dry, combustible materials around or as kindling in a fireplace. 

A better choice would be to burn a single carbon duplicate piece by piece to avoid flare-ups and potential fire hazards. Burning a single leaf reduces the likelihood of a wildfire and improves control over the process of combustion.

Burning the check also eliminates any trace of carbon copies and essentially eliminates the danger of fraudsters and exploiters since no trace of the check remains.

However, it would be best to remember that untreated ash waste might be hazardous to humans and the environment. Thus, it should be appropriately disposed of when the check carbon copies have been reduced to cinders. When dealing with fire, it is imperative to use extreme caution too.

Paper shredding

Shredding is an effective method for getting rid of check carbon copies. A cross-cut shredder shreds the paper at many angles. This also ensures shredding it into tiny bits that can’t be put back together. It is a safe technique of disposal. Shredding is something that you may do at both households and companies.

Shredders are commonly seen in offices that create a lot of paper trash. After receiving authorization from their company, an employee may quickly destroy their check carbon copies using the shredders.

Office supply businesses now shred checks on-demand in addition to these workplace shredders. Clients may shred small or large batches of paper at UPS and FedEx locations, for example. These establishments also allow check owners to have their check carbon copies destroyed right before their eyes.

This reduces the risk of tampering and is also relatively safe since these cross-cut shredding machines shred the paper into tiny bits that can’t be bonded back together.

You can find a portable solution for home use shredders on the market. The good news is that you can find these shredders online for a variety of rates too. The disadvantage of these tiny, low-quality shredders is that instead of shredding the checks into little bits, they shred them into long strips.

A fraudster who has access to the check holder’s details may reassemble these lengthy strips. To eliminate this risk, it’s best to cut the check’s details horizontally before running it through a domestic primary shredder. The strips will be narrower and even tinier as a result of this method. Thus, the odds of reassembling are drastically decreased.


Another option for getting rid of check carbon copies is to incinerate them. It also removes all traces of the checks and is a very safe and efficient method of destroying check carbon copies. In addition, the danger presented by swindlers to check owners is essentially non-existent after incineration.

Usually, incinerators are prohibitively costly to operate and are not viable for most limited check carbon copy disposal. On the other hand, incinerators may be used to dispose of vast volumes of check carbon copies. 


Comparison chart

Single checkDuplicate check
Does not require the use of a carbon paperRequires the use of a carbon paper
Writer does not need to press hard against the paperWriter has to press hard against the top check to enable duplication
No evidence left behind in case of loss of a checkIn case of loss of a check, there is evidence left behind on the duplicate copy
Its check book is less bulkyIts check book is bulky as a result of the doubled number of pages.

Do I need to keep check duplicates?

You do not need to keep check duplicates, especially if the check clears and shows up in your online banking. However, the check duplicate provides a non-digital means of tracking expenses and payments. Therefore, you may consider keeping your checks if you itemize your tax deductions or business expenses in case of IRS audit.

The important thing to remember is that check duplicates provide a record of payment. You can use this record if there is ever a discrepancy, such as missing a mortgage payment.

How long should copies of checks be kept?

At a minimum, you should keep check duplicates between 5-7 years. Checks written that support a tax return should be kept for a minimum of seven years. Checks written for loan repayment should be kept for the duration of the loan plus 5-7 years.

What do I do with old duplicate checks?

Old check duplicates can be archived in your filing cabinet or shredded. Typically, you can take check duplicates to your bank who can shred them for you. Shredding your checks via your bank is typically considered a more secure method of disposing of check duplicates.

Pros and Cons of Duplicate Checks

  • Easy to use

  • Allows you to control recordkeeping

  • Offline access to records

Cons Security and privacy risk More expensive Checks becoming increasingly uncommon

Pros Explained

  • Easy to use: The carbon copy is created automatically by the pressure you put on the pen to write the check. It's easy to see check amounts and recipients.
  • Allows you to control recordkeeping: You're the only person who controls these duplicates. You can include as much detail on them as you want, and store them for as long as you want.
  • Offline access to records: Much of the information provided by duplicates is available online, but duplicates allow you to access the same information offline.

Cons Explained

  • Security and privacy risk: Duplicates have a lot of personal information about you, so if a bad actor obtains them, it could be troublesome for you. Duplicates contain your bank information, as well as information like how much you spend in a given week and where you spend it.
  • More expensive: Duplicates may be more expensive than single checks, depending on your bank or check provider.
  • Checks becoming increasingly uncommon: A major downside to all of this is that checks are becoming increasingly uncommon. If you hardly use checks, it might not be worth investing in duplicates. You might be better off simply building a habit of checking your account online more often.


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