Should You Shred? Why Protecting Your Identity is More Important than You Think

January 28, 2016

We’ve all heard terrible stories about identity theft – stolen credit card numbers, collection agencies calling about an account you never opened – the list goes on and on. When even the Supreme Court has deemed that there’s nothing illegal about dumpster diving for Personally Identifiable Information (PII), how can you protect yourself?

The answer is simple, and that’s to shred anything that may have a signature, account number, social security number, or medical or legal information before throwing it away. We’ve compiled a list of a few common papers and documents you may have laying around the house, and how you should properly dispose of them.

  • Plastic Cards – When your credit or debit card expires, shred it before throwing it away.
  • ATM Receipts – Don’t just crumple it up and leave it for the next person to find! Shred them after comparing with your statement.
  • Tax Returns – The IRS recommends keeping your tax returns for anywhere from three to seven years. Visit the IRS website for a specific timeframe.
  • Monthly Account Statements – Just like your tax returns, any kind of monthly financial statements should be kept for at least three years.
  • Loan Information – Anything including your loan number, address, Social Security Number, or any other form of PII should be shredded when it is no longer needed.
  • Insurance Policies, Claims & Payment Information – As long as you have your policy, any information relevant towards that should be kept. Ask your broker for specific documents.
  • Paycheck Stubs – It’s recommended that you keep one month’s worth of paycheck stubs if you’re planning on applying for any loans. Otherwise, you can shred.

While these situations vary based on the time sensitivity of the information and content itself, it all boils down to a simple rule. If the document has any form of personal financial information, shredding will help protect you and your identity.

If we at Kemp Harvest Financial Group can help you in any way, please feel free to contact us.

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