What items should I shred?

posted this on Jul 22, 2015

One of the main reasons why people buy paper shredders is so that they can prevent themselves from becoming victims of identity theft. If you already have a shredder, you’re probably wondering if you’re shredding the right things. What documents need to be shredded? In a nutshell, anything that has your identifying details (name, etc.)  should be destroyed, along with paper containing financial information. That’s kind of a broad definition, so are here are five specific things you need to shred….

1.) Credit reports. Do you check your credit report every year and print it out? If so, shred it when you no longer need it instead of just recycling it. Your credit report is a treasure trove of information for identity thieves because it contains your name, address, the names of your creditors, and so on. That’s definitely information you want to keep private. And if you’re an employer, you’ll want to shred your employees’ credit reports as well. If you don’t you could find your company in violation of the Fair and Accurate Credit Reporting Act (FACTA) which can lead to lawsuits.

2.) Receipts containing your bank account number. These items have become less common over the years, but there are still times when you’ll receive a receipt that has this precious piece of information on it. To be safe, you should shred every receipt you get for check and credit/debit card transactions. Or, at the very least, you should look at them before tossing them to be sure there’s no account numbers printed on them.

3.) Tax and legal forms. After a certain amount of time has passed, you might want to consider shredding your legal papers and tax forms. Your tax returns contain a lot of private information including your Social Security number and details about your income, etc. That’s definitely not the kind of information you want to make available to the public. As for legal forms, they should definitely be shredded. These include divorce and adoption papers, bankruptcy forms, paperwork pertaining to a lawsuit, and so on.

4.) Medical and dental records. Shredding your medical and dental records is a good idea for a number of reasons. First, these items could have your Social Security number on them, as well as your contact information. Also, unless you enjoy having random people know all about your medical history, shredding these items just makes sense. (This is especially true if the records contain information about psychiatric conditions and other highly personal matters.)

5.) Anything – absolutely anything – containing your signature. Finally, it’s important to shred anything that contains your signature whether it’s a canceled check, a letter, or even a birthday card. It’s pretty easy to forge a signature and if someone does so, you can find yourself in a heap of trouble. So make sure to run all papers containing your autograph through your shredder just be on the safe side.

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