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October 12, 2018

To Shred or Not to Shred

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 incidents that happen because of papers and documents that are not disposed of properly. It is important to know what documents should be shred immediately or later.


What Can I Shred Now?


Any personal mail that does not need to be saved can be shred. Letters, postcards or anything with a personal and return address should be shred. If you receive packages, tear off the labels to be shred. Invoices can be shred 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 shred.


What Can I Shred Later?


There are some types of documents that should be shred but should 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. Save business-related property and tax records for 10 years. The IRS may opt to audit people or 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. Save warranties and insurance policies until they are void before shredding them.


What Should Never Be Shred?


It is important to know what documents should be shred and which ones should never be shred. Items such as divorce records, original marriage certificates, birth certificates, citizenship documents, social security cards, death certificates, military records, property deeds and estate planning documents should never be discarded.

Keeping a month-based filing system is a good way to track and flag documents to be shred. Another option is to set a specific time of year to gather outdated documents for shredding. PROSHRED® Washington D.C. offers shredding services in the surrounding areas and as a locally-owned and operated business, PROSHRED® Washington D.C. takes business and personal privacy seriously. Contact us for more information and a free estimate.

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