In today’s world, everyone needs to stop and think about what to throw away and what needs to be shredded. Did you know that someone can legally dig through your garbage looking for personal information and, then illegally, use it to steal your identity? Sadly, the answer is they can, and you having the expectation that leaving your garbage by the curb to be picked up is private, is considered an unreasonable expectation by U.S. Supreme Court. Anyone can dig through your trash, so you need to protect yourself by shredding documents.
What documents should you shred?
The short answer is anything that has one of your account numbers, social security number or signature, and any personal medical and legal information. Even those credit card offers can be used to steal your identity, so shred them as well.
Other items that you should shred are:
• Utility bills
• ATM receipts, carbon copies, and other receipts
• Voided, canceled, and old unused checks
• Pay stubs, employment and pension plan records, even if they are years old
• Extra copies of resumes, diplomas, legal documents, marriage and birth certificates
• Expired passports, visas, driver license, ID’s, and credit cards
• Signed documents, such as contracts
• Insurance documents, even if they’re expired
• Bank and credit card statements
• Credit reports and histories
• Used airline tickets and luggage tags
There are documents that you don’t want to shred and according to the U.S. government should be kept until the information is outdated or for the rest of your life. These documents should be stored in a safe deposit box at your bank or in a locked fire-safe box.
• Original birth and marriage certificates
• Mortgage documents and real estate deeds
• Vehicle titles
• Life insurance policies
• Education transcripts, diplomas, and military records
• Social security cards
• Powers of attorney, wills, and trusts
• Legal documents like divorce decrees
• Warranties you feel are important
Some documents can be shredded after being kept for a certain amount of time, such as filed tax returns. There are different time frames for holding on to tax returns. Three to six years but the best general rule to follow is to hang on to them for seven years before shredding them. All other documents with your personal information that is no longer valid or needed, and you don’t want to keep stored. Think about going through those old boxes of records you have stored away and shred what is no longer necessary, rather than hanging on to them.
One way to avoid unnecessary documents to worry about shredding is to use electronic delivery of credit card statements, bank statements, receipts, and utility bills. For professional, trusted, and confidential shredding services, contact our Boston Shredding Company.