When Should You Shred Your Financial Documents?

Posted by Lauren Spencer on Wednesday, November 6th, 2013 at 4:26pm.

How do you know what happens to your documents when you put a piece of paper in the trash? It can be difficult to know who is seeing it and what they are doing with it.

It isn't very common to burn trash anymore; therefore you can be sure that your paper garbage or recycling is likely to pass through several hands on its way to a landfill or recycling center 

Step-by-Step Your Documents Can Get Pilfered

Every step that occurs once the trash leaves your control has risk that someone will find personal information they can use to cause you harm. One way to safeguard personal information is to shred it before it goes into the trash.

Shredding devices are available at most office supply stores. Cross-cut shredders provide more security than strip-cut shredders. You may want to consider one depending on your level of concern. Shredding services or shredding events are often offered by financial institutions or community organizations.

Properly destroying sensitive personal information is a key step in helping to keep your identity secure.   You really should shred any documents containing personal information, but be cautious not to shred financial documents that you may still need.

To Shred Or Not To Shred, That Is The Question...Or Maybe It's When To Shred

The Better Business Bureau offers these guidelines on when to shred:

  • Deposit, ATM, credit, and debit card receipts can be shredded once the transaction   appears on your statement
  • Canceled checks, credit card statements, and bank statements with no long-term significance can go through the shredder after one year; if used to support tax returns, keep them for seven years
  • Monthly bill statements can be shredded one year after receiving, to allow for year-to-year bill comparisons (another good way to monitor your budget!)
  • Credit card contracts and loan agreements should be saved for as long as the account is active
  • Pay stubs can be shredded yearly after reconciling with your W-2 or other tax forms
  • Documentation of investment purchases or sales should be kept for as long as you own the investment and then seven years after that; shred monthly investment account statements annually after reconciling with a year-end statement
  • Always shred documents with Social Security numbers, birth dates, PIN numbers or passwords, financial information, contracts or letters with signatures, pre-approved credit card applications, medical and dental bills, travel itineraries, and used airline tickets.

For more information about buying and selling a Santa Cruz home, email me at lauren@laurenspencer.com or give me a call at 831.662.6522.

For additional real estate information, please visit my home page at www.MySantaCruzRealEstate.com.

About Lauren Spencer

Award-Winning Santa Cruz REALTOR®

Lauren Spencer is your local real estate expert, specializing in Santa Cruz real estate and surrounding communities—this is where she lives, works, and plays too. Let her know your questions about the community and county and she'll be happy to fill you in on all you want to know! Lauren Spencer has consistently been voted best local REALTOR in Santa Cruz and is always happy to offer her advice and expertise. Call her at: 800.226.4717.

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