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Are Your Documents Secure? 10 Things You Need to Shred Immediately

With an ever-increasing emphasis on digital data security, it’s easy to forget physical documents still have potential for identity theft. Left unsecured, trashcans full of old documents can potentially be a gold mine for identity thieves.

10 Documents You Need to Shred

To make sure your documents are safe and secure, here’s a list of 10 things you definitely need to shred:

  1. Bank statements. Experts across the board agree: bank statements should be shredded. As soon as you get the information you need from your statement, shred the document immediately; failing to ensures criminals have access to personal information.
  2. Pay stubs. Though perhaps not thought of as dangerous documents, pay stubs contain more personal information than you might think. Shredding old pay stubs keeps identity thieves from knowing your health care providers and where you bank.
  3. Junk mail. Left unshredded, an identity thief could easily fill out a preapproved credit card application on your behalf. Instead of trying to figure out which junk mail is dangerous and which isn’t, shred it all just to be safe.
  4. Old tax returns. You should save tax returns for at least three years, but remember incorrectly filing your taxes can lead to IRS audits further down the road. Tax returns contain a wealth of personal information and should be safely disposed of.
  5. Medical records. Even though you should keep a personal copy of your medical records, remember to shred it when you feel that the information is no longer needed. Keep any medical bills for about a year after they’re paid, then throw them into the shredder.
  6. Insurance records. Insurance records are another document you need to hold onto longer than other documents. Hold onto them for as long as your policy is active, plus about five years, then shred them — they’re another potential jackpot for identity thieves.
  7. Credit card statements. Being a smart credit card user requires a lot of effort. Transitioning to online statements is a great way to protect yourself from physical document identity theft, but if you do still get paper statements, make sure to shred them immediately.
  8. Old passports and photo IDs. If you hold onto your old passports and photo IDs after they expire, shred them the minute you don’t need them. An identity thief with either is incredibly dangerous. Also remember to be extremely careful with passports while they’re still in use.
  9. Family photos. Consider shredding old photos instead of just throwing them out (after you’ve digitized them, of course). Thieves can use your photos maliciously, and even if they can’t steal your identity using old images, it’s still a good idea to keep them secure.
  10. Old hard drives. When it comes down to it, shredding hard drives is the best way to get rid of them. Think of all the secure information you’ve ever put on a hard drive and imagine an identity thief getting to that information—is simply throwing them out really worth the risk?

DataShield: A Professional Document Shredding Service

Though this list is a good start for documents to shred, it’s by no means exhaustive. Always be careful about what you put in the trash, and make sure to shred anything containing personal information, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

(Did we miss anything? Let us know on Twitter.)

DataShield offers confidential document destruction and safe shredding, and we dispose of your documents properly. For more information, contact us here.

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