1. Old tax returns
This is one very important document that should be in your shredder as soon as you get audited. After 3 years are over, you will be in the clear unless the IRS has reasons to investigate you for tax fraud. It isn’t advisable to keep tax returns for more than three years because the documents contain your social security number. It is also worth noting that your dependents social security numbers are also displayed on your tax returns. Old tax returns must be destroyed because they expose you and your dependents to fraud/identity theft risks if they land in the wrong hands.
2. Bank statements
Anything with your bank account numbers should also be shredded as soon as possible. Most banks send their customers statements on a monthly basis. Most people inspect bank statements and stack them up in their drawers at home or workplaces. This shouldn’t be the case. You should shred your bank statement every month or revert to a more effective method of monitoring your bank transactions i.e. requesting online statements.
3. Credit card offers
Unless you are planning to take up credit card offers, there is absolutely no reason to keep offers stashed in your office or home. Mailed offers should be destroyed immediately since a lot of identity theft cases can happen within households and workplaces. You shouldn’t leave any credit card offers lying around since anyone with your basic information can easily fill out such offers without your knowledge.
4. Old photo IDs
It is also advisable to shred anything with your picture on it, i.e. old photo IDs once you stop using them. This means old college IDs and security badges (from previous employers) should be shredded as opposed to being stored for sentimental reasons. Although photo IDs aren’t adequate enough to facilitate identity theft on their own, the IDs contain vital information which could be utilized as part of bigger identity theft schemes with the intention of bypassing fraud-prevention measures.
5. Cancelled checks
Writing a check ”void” isn’t enough if you are conscious about being a victim of identity theft and fraud. You need to go ahead and shred the check since it contains a lot of vital information, i.e. your account & routing numbers (at the bottom), your name, address and possibly, your phone number. Some people even go as far as writing their credit card numbers on checks for purposes of paying bills. Nothing more needs to be said to stress the importance of shredding cancelled checks.
In summary, shredding goes a long way in helping you protect your data. The above personal papers/plastic documents must be included in your shredding list. It is important to note that there are many other personal papers/documents that require shredding, i.e. convenience checks and pay stubs. It is advisable to use this article as basis for further research. You should also consider hiring the services of a good document shredding company like TriStar Shredding if you need any kind of shredding assistance.