To Shred or Not to Shred: How to Know When and What to Shred

When it is time to purge your old personal or business documents, don't throw them in the trash or a recycling bin. Shred them for your protection.

“It’s important to not toss personal identifiable mail and documents in the trash, as thieves can use this information to steal your identity, the identity of an employee and more,” said Lynette Lyons, Security Bank SBA loan officer and  event organizer of Security Bank's Community Shred Day.

Here is a general guide on when it's a good time to declutter your file cabinets and storage closets. If you are uncertain about a particular item, talk to your financial advisor before shredding important documents to make sure these items won't be needed in the future for tax or other purposes.  

Documents to shred (and shred immediately)

  • Sales receipts
  • Bank & ATM receipts
  • Credit reports
  • Insurance offers
  • Credit card offers
  • Unwanted credit card applications or pre-approved cards
  • Old driver’s licenses, credit cards, and IDs
  • Boarding passes & airline tickets
  • Prescription labels
  • Return labels
  • Unused resumes
  • Junk mail

Shred after 30 days

  • Checks deposited through mobile apps after you've reviewed your bank statement

Shred after one year

  • Credit card bills & statements
  • Utility bills
  • Cell phone bills
  • Paychecks & pay stubs (or after filing taxes for the year)
  • Undisputed medical bills (that have been paid)
  • Old versions of insurance policy statements, retirement plan statements, and Social Security statements
  • Cancelled personal checks

Shred after four years

  • Insurance statements
  • Bank statements
  • Receipts for TVs, computers, and other big-ticket items for warranties and proof of purchase

Shred after seven years

  • Tax-related receipts & documents
  • Tax forms & records
  • W-2s and 1099s
  • Records for tax deductions
  • Investment records
  • Checks from charitable donations
  • Shred once the item is sold or the issue is resolved:
  • Home titles and deeds
  • Vehicle insurance policies if outdated
  • Disputed medical bills
  • Receipts for major appliances or items with extended warranties
  • Rental agreements & leases if outdated

Documents you should never shred

  • Birth certificates
  • Death certificates
  • Social Security cards
  • Marriage certificates
  • Divorce decrees
  • Citizenship papers or green cards
  • Adoption papers
  • Academic records, diplomas, & transcripts
  • Military records
  • Pension plan & retirement plan documents
  • Papers proving you paid off your mortgage, car loan, or student loans
  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Passports

Safely dispose of your old documents at Security Bank's annual Community Shred Day that takes place in May. Click here for details on this year's event. 


Source: Shred Nation