Tossing your old bank and credit card statements in the trash opens you up to a whole new world of potential identity theft. Identity thieves have no problem rolling up their sleeves to dig through your rubbish in order to obtain personal information that can only harm you down the road.
A home shredder may help with a bill here or there, but if you are cleaning out your old files after the three-seven year mark, you may want to stop by our upcoming shred event and leave your large job to the professionals.
What should be on your shred-day list?
Anything with sensitive information that includes account numbers, birth dates, social security numbers, passwords, PINs, email accounts, phone numbers, addresses and even signatures.
While seven years is a safe bet for tax records, the IRS has three years to audit a return for a potential error or six years to audit if they suspect you underreported your income by 25% of more.
Old pay stubs can be shredded after filing your taxes for the year.
Bank statements are best held for one year. Sign up for E-statements and to stay safe and paper free.
Credit card statements are good to go after confirming the payment has gone through. Again, sign up for E-statements and automatic billing to stay paper free.
Medical records are a bit of a grey area. You will want to keep them for the year in case of any discrepancies over reimbursement or the need to provide substantiation back to your employer if you participate in their flex spend program. You may also want to hold onto any pertinent information if you need to switch doctors. Hospital bills and prescriptions should be kept for five years. Check to see if your insurance company provides online account management.
Utility and cell phone bills can be shredded after they are paid, unless you need them for tax purposes, in which case you need to keep them with your taxes for at least three years.
One last consideration:
Shed your ATM receipts, address labels from junk mail and magazines, copies of voided checks, credit reports, employment information, expired ID cards … anything that contains personal information. You can never be too safe!