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August 16, 2021

To Shred Or Not To Shred: A Simple Shredding Guide

Identity theft crimes are on the rise in Washington D.C. and throughout the nation. While many incidents happen because of machines that steal card numbers and because of online hackers, there are still many instances of identity theft that occur because papers and documents are not being disposed of correctly.

Documents cannot be simply tossed in the trash; they need to go through a secure form of document destruction, such as legal document shredding, in order to keep personally identifying information confidential. In this blog, you’ll learn what documents should be shred, which ones shouldn’t, what documents to shred immediately, and which ones to shred later. Knowing this information will help you safely store information and prevent identity theft crimes.

What should never be shred?

It is important to know what documents should be shredded and which ones should never be shredded. There are necessary records that should never be destroyed because they are difficult to replace, such as divorce records, original marriage certificates, birth certificates, citizenship documents, social security cards, death certificates, military records, property deeds, and estate planning documents. Keep them in a safe place and never send them through the shredder.

Keeping a month-based filing system is a good way to keep track of documents and flag the ones that should be disposed of. Another safe document handling option is to set a specific time of year to gather outdated documents for shredding. PROSHRED® Washington D.C. offers paper shredding services in the surrounding areas. We take business and personal privacy seriously. That’s why we offer regularly scheduled mobile shredding as well as one-time purge shredding, to safely clear out document stockpiles and protect personal information.


What should always be shred?

Anything that someone could use for identity theft or getting into your accounts should be shredded, but not always immediately. There are plenty of documents we may have that are waiting to be destroyed and could have been already. Most documents that are old, expired, and no longer in use are ready to be shredded. These documents still pose a threat to information security even once expired, so secure data destruction is necessary. Bills are no longer needed once paid. Other accounts that can be shredded immediately are expired passports, IDs, driver’s licenses, and credit or debit cards. Just make sure that you are done with them before they are shredded.



What should I shred now?

Documents that are not of importance but contain personal information can be immediately destroyed. Any personal mail that does not need to be saved is ready for the shredder. That includes letters, postcards, or anything with a personal and return address. If you receive packages, remember to tear off the labels to be shredded as well. Invoices can be disposed of if the item is consumable and will be used quickly. Voided checks, ATM receipts, transcripts, and any non-essential items with personally-identifiable information should be sent through the shredder.


What should I shred later?

There are some types of documents that should be shredded eventually, but not be discarded immediately. Bills for utilities, phone service, internet service, and other services should be saved until they are paid. For credit card statements, keep them only for 45 days before shredding. Bank statements, pay stubs, and medical statements should be saved for at least one year. Be sure to shred these documents after the year has passed.

Papers that include medical records and are not just bills should be saved for five years. Save tax records and any home purchase or improvement records for seven years, and keep business-related property and tax records for 10 years. The IRS may opt to audit businesses and will request receipts and documents of expenditure proof for several retroactive tax periods. Life insurance policies vary in their coverage terms. For policies that have a specified period, save them for five years after the life of the policy ends. Save them even if a new policy is purchased or if the policy is renewed. Any warranties and insurance policies should be kept until they are void before shredding them.



Why should I shred?

Simply throwing papers in the trash can put your information at risk, while shredding papers prevents the wrong people from gaining access to it. Shredding does this by making any personal information unreadable before disposal. Document destruction is the safest option for throwing out old paperwork and bills because no one will be able to read the contents of your private mail after shredding. This makes it the most secure way to get rid of old paperwork without the threat of identity theft.


PROSHRED® Washington D.C. Secure Paper Shredding: We can help!

If you’re wondering where to shred paper and prevent information theft, PROSHRED® Washington D.C. offers local paper shredding services to the D.C, area. Our document destruction keeps all information secure. Additionally, we offer a drop off shredding service at our full-service Baltimore office. If you’re further away, one of our mobile paper shredding trucks can stop by. For more information and a free estimate, just give us a call: 301-652-0005

Frequently Asked Questions about Paper Shredding in Washington D.C.

The length of time documents should be kept will depend on what it is. Bills can be shredded after they are paid along with any expired documents while business and tax records should be kept for years.

PROSHRED® offers a convenient and secure drop off shredding service at our full-service Baltimore office or our mobile shredding trucks can come to you. For more information: 1-301-284-0893.

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