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What documents need to be shredded?

The Better Business Bureau is having a shredding event from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 21 in Wichita. Bring up to 3 boxes or bags of sensitive documents to 125 S. Washington Street for free shredding.
The Better Business Bureau is having a shredding event from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 21 in Wichita. Bring up to 3 boxes or bags of sensitive documents to 125 S. Washington Street for free shredding. File photo

By now everyone knows they should shred old documents, but how many of us actually do it?

Here’s one good reason to get busy: Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. has their identity stolen. Some of those folks have it stolen the old fashioned way: by a thief going through their trash. The hackers, like the ones who breached the files at Equifax, get the big headlines, but that doesn’t mean the low-tech crooks aren’t still going strong.

They want your old documents. Don’t give them that opportunity.

The Better Business Bureau is having a shredding event from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 21 in Wichita. Bring up to 3 boxes or bags of sensitive documents to 125 S. Washington Street for free shredding.

For those who aren’t sure what to shred, here’s advice from the Better Business Bureau.

What to shred

When in doubt, shred it. Almost anything that comes in the mail is of potential use by identity thieves. Even the most innocuous piece of junk mail can contain useful information for crooks. Envelope return addresses can tell them where you bank, who handles your investments and who has your mortgage. Junk mail credit card offers can be fished from your trash.

Here’s an abbreviated list of things that you should shred:

▪  Credit and debit card receipts

▪  Pre-approved credit card and loan offers

▪  Retail invoices and statements

▪  Unused credit card checks

▪  Medical bills

▪  All insurance information (auto, health and life insurance)

▪  Canceled checks

▪  Pension account statements

▪  Used airline tickets

▪  Paycheck stubs

▪  Anything related to taxes

▪  Utility bills

▪  Anything with your signature on it

▪  ATM receipts

▪  Address labels from all junk mail and magazines

Remember: Shred everything that has an account number, Social Security number, medical or legal information and your signature.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a simple hand-shred of such items is sufficient. A dedicated thief can easily piece such puzzles together and get access to your information. Only a crosscut shredder does the job well enough to protect you.

What to keep

Some experts say you should keep tax documents for 10 years, not the seven years that the IRS suggests. If you are audited, 10 years’ worth of back paperwork may come in handy. And it’s a good idea to keep the front page of your 1040 form forever, in case you eventually want to go back and see what you earned and what you paid in taxes.

Also keep all paperwork proving you paid off any loans, from your mortgage to your car to you student loan.

Additionally, keep these:

▪  Birth and death certificates

▪  Social Security cards and recent statements

▪  Pension and retirement plan documents

▪  ID cards and passports

▪  Marriage license

▪  Business license

▪  Insurance policies

▪  Wills, living wills and powers of attorney

▪  Vehicle titles

You can find a more detailed list of items that should be shredded and should be kept (as well as how long to keep them) by going to bbb.org and clicking on “Secure Your ID Shred Day.” Once there, scroll down to the “Important Information on Document Shredding” link.

Denise Groene is director of the Better Business Bureau of Kansas. The BBB can be contacted at 800-856-2417 or bbbinc.org.

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