If you’re like many Americans, you’re storing documents in your house that contain sensitive information that you wouldn’t want to get into the wrong hands. The potential for identify theft is an excellent reason why it’s important to know when it’s time to shred documents that are no longer needed. Here is a quick rundown on what you can feed into a shredder:
Go ahead and keep your pay stubs until the calendar year has ended and you’ve received your W-2 form for tax purposes. You can use the pay stubs to reconcile with your W-2 and then pitch them.
Why hold onto bank statements when you can access the same information online? In fact, accessing your accounts online will eliminate the need to have bank statements mailed to your house. Your mailbox, after all, is a weak link when it comes to protecting your privacy.
Once you get the yearly statement for each of your investment accounts, you can shred the quarterly and/or monthly statements. And, once again, if you access your investment accounts online, there is no need to have your statements mailed to your residence.
Credit card companies like to send so-called convenience checks to customers, which cardholders can use to borrow against their credit-card lines. Get rid of these blank checks.
You should keep your tax returns and supporting documents at least until the statute of limitations expires, which in most cases is three years. The federal government typically reserves the right to audit taxpayer returns for three years after filing. You can discover more detailed advice about how long you should hold onto tax documents by reading this blog post: How Long Should You Keep Tax Returns?
Only hang onto statements that you will need for your income tax returns and proof of purchase.
If the shredder can’t cut through plastic, cut the cards up in several pieces and throw them away in at least two different trash bags.
Unless you are holding onto your ID from your college or military days, old driver’s licenses or other photo IDs for sentimental reasons, you should shred them. These ID’s contain valuable information including your date of birth, height, and weight. The same advice goes for old passports and visas.
There’s no need to keep expired insurance policies for your car, apartment and home.
If you don’t need these checks for tax purposes, get rid of them.
No need to have a copy of your credit history sitting around that would provide a convenient road map for an identity thief.
Get rid of old boarding passes and trip itineraries. Only hold onto trip receipts that you might need for tax purposes.