Scheduled Shredding: Unlikely Docs Pose Real ID Theft RisksApril 13, 2011 No Comments
Media reports about online e-mail identity theft like the incident with Epsilon Marketing services often take the spotlight when it comes to ID theft, but the Better Business Bureau reminds consumers that most identity theft still occurs off-line when people neglect regular shredding schedules.
Although online hackers and phishing scams dominate media headlines, a report by Javelin Strategy and Research notes that more than 89 percent of all identity fraud occurs through stolen bank statements; lost or stolen wallets, checkbooks or credit cards; or other non-internet threats.
The Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) encourages consumers to take action in protecting their identity, and offers the following guideline on what and when to shred sensitive documents.
Check Your Checkbook
Canceled checks with no long-term significance for tax or other purposes can be destroyed after one year. However, canceled checks that support tax returns, such as charitable contributions or tax payments, should be held for at least seven years—long enough to cover the six-year tax assessment period. The BBB advises that consumers indefinitely keep any canceled checks and related receipts or documents for a home purchase or sale, renovations or other improvements to owned property, as well as non-deductible contributions to an Individual Retirement Account.
Bills & Bank Statements
Credit card and bank account statements with no tax or other long-term significance can be discarded after a year; remaining statements should be kept for up to seven years. If a consumer receives a detailed annual statement, they should keep it and shred the corresponding monthly statements.
Credit Card Agreements & Contracts
Credit card contracts and loan agreements should be kept for as long as the account is active in case the consumer has a dispute with their lender over the terms of the contract.
Consumers should save credit, debit and ATM receipts until the transaction appears on their statement and they have verified that the information is accurate.
Stocks, 401-Ks & Investments
Investors should retain documentation of a purchase or sale for as long as they own the investment and then seven years beyond that time. Monthly retirement and monthly investment account statements can be shredded annually after being reconciled with the year-end statement.
Paycheck stubs can be shredded yearly after the income has been reconciled with a W-2 or other tax forms.
Utility Bills, Monthly Statements
Monthly bills should be shredded the year after being received by the consumer. This way, if it is a power bill, for example, consumers can compare this month’s bill to last year’s bill for any major changes before shredding it.
Below are recommended items to shred on a regular basis:
• Documents that include Social Security numbers, birth dates, PIN numbers or passwords
• Banking documents and other financial information
• Leases, contracts or letters that include signatures
• Pre-approved credit card applications
• Medical or dental bills
• Travel itineraries
• Used airline tickets