Keep private paperwork out of identity thieves’ hands.
It may not be a news flash, but identity theft is on the rise. At least 15 million Americans fall prey to identity thieves each year. Identity theft may account for $50 billion annually or more. How many individuals unwittingly play right into crooks’ hands by failing to destroy key documents?
Major companies routinely hire shredding services to dispose of confidential documents, once those securely filed papers are not longer needed.
Individuals may help to protect themselves against identity theft by shredding key documents. Many folks are surprised at the number of items that may expose confidential personal information to would-be identity thieves.
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Here’s the top list of 20 shredding musts for privacy and prudent protection:
- Bank statements – after one year
- Bills – after two months and confirmation of payment, unless needed for tax-deductible expenses
- Checks and checking account statements – after five years
- Credit cards – expired or unused
- Credit reports – after receipt of updated report
- Employee identification badges - expired
- Financial aid papers – 10 years after repayment
- Home improvement bills – six years after sale of home
- Insurance papers – five years after policy cancellation or expiration
- Investment statements – after receipt of year-end statements
- Medical notices – after a year, unless account dispute occurs
- Military identification badges – expired
- Passports – expired
- Paycheck stubs – after comparing to annual W-2 form
- Pre-approved credit applications
- Sales receipts – unless possibility exists for product return, warranty claim or tax deduction
- School report cards
- Tax records – after seven years (in case of Internal Revenue Service audit)
- Visas and travel papers – after completing travel
- Wedding invitations – personal and others
Of course, several important financial papers worthy retention, but only in a top-security spot, such as a bank safety deposit box or a fireproof safe. Under the bed or in a shoebox on the closet shelf do not qualify.
Here are 15 examples of documents to keep, but under careful security:
- Automotive titles
- Baptism certificates
- Birth certificates
- Credit reports
- Insurance policies
- Legal findings (adoption, divorce and more)
- Loan payment books
- Marriage licenses
- Military dog tags – unless wearing them
- Passports – current
- Property tax assessments
- Real estate deeds
- Stocks and bonds
- Wills and estate papers
Self-defense strategies are not limited to martial arts and physical fitness.
Financial fitness is a critical component in personal protection against crime, particularly identity theft. By shredding documents containing private data and by keeping necessary confidential paperwork in a secure spot, individuals can surely minimize their exposure to such peril.
Don’t toss secrets in the trash. Shred confidential paperwork for financial security.