When it comes to shredding documents, the biggest question is usually why you should shred them and what exactly needs to be shredded. A good general rule of thumb is that anything you are throwing away that has personal, confidential or financial information, should be shredded, but there is more to know. Here are some documents you should shred.
Reasons to Shred Documents
The first thing to know about shredding documents and paperwork is the reason why. This can help you further determine what should definitely be shredded, and what is not necessary and can just be thrown in the recycle bin. The main reason you are shredding certain documents is for safety and security. People who want to steal someone's identity will do so through their mail. They will either go through trash cans, dumpsters, or junk yards that have paper items. This is why you are going to shred anything with personal or confidential information.
Documents You Should Shred
The first category includes the documents you need to shred. Any papers that have your signature, social security number, address, account numbers or financial information, birth date, passwords or PINs should definitely be shredded. While it is not required, it is recommended that you also shred documents with your name, phone number, or email address as well. Some of the documents you will want to shred include:
- ATM receipts
- Financial records, including loan paperwork and bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Address labels
- Junk mail that includes your name and address
- Credit reports
- Pay stubs
- Employment records
- Old IDs, including driver's license, military license, school IDs, employee badges
- Legal documents
- Insurance documents
- Stocks and bonds documents
- Expired passport
- Medical records
- Pre-approved credit card documents
- Plane tickets
When to Shred Documents
A lot of these documents will be filed away in your home or business office, but you don't need to keep them forever. Otherwise you would be renting out storage space just for your paperwork. Some items only need to be stored for a certain period of time, then you can shred them. Tax records only need to be kept for a few years, as after this point, you will most likely not be dealing with amendment of tax returns or an audit. Things like bank statements, pay stubs, utility bills, medical records, and credit card statements can be shredded after about a year. For insurance records, keep them several years at least.
While you may want to recycle your shredded documents, this is not always possible. Contact your local recycling center and ask if they accept shredded paper to be recycled. If not, you will throw it away in your regular garbage can.
If you shred paper on larger scales, consider shredding services from a company like ABC Moving & Storage.