With all the different technology available to hackers, identity theft is not a simple threat to protect yourself from. It is incredibly easy for someone to gain important and “secure” information, whether it be via online accounts or simply scanning through your garbage.
Because of this, it is important to be vigilant in how you store and secure your own personal documents. In order to eliminate confusion, here is a simple and quick guide on when to use paper shredding services, when to keep, and when to store different documents.
Keep these documents secure in a home safe, or a safety deposit box. These are items you will rarely need, so they do not necessarily need to be stored in your home.
- Loan agreements
- Divorce papers
- Citizenship certificates
- Paperwork from any lawsuits you have been in
- Inventory of your household
- Stock/bond certificates
- Living wills
- Vehicle titles
- Adoption paperwork
- Real estate investments and account statements
These documents may be necessary once in a while, whether it is documentation needed by an employer, a doctor, or a lawyer.
- Your birth certificate and social security number. You should keep the original copies within reach at your home and keep copies in your safety deposit box.
- Your passport. A good tip is to never leave on vacation without a duplicate copy of the identity page, as you will then have a way of identifying yourself in a foreign country if need be. If you lose your passport within the U.S., you can use your driver’s license and birth certificate to apply for a new one.
- Your credit report for easy reference
- Health records and prescriptions
- Employment contract and benefits statement
Document shredding is needed for paperwork that once held important information, but is either irrelevant or expired. But since these documents hold secure information, it is important you invest in paper shredding so hackers and thieves cannot obtain anything useful.
- Pay stubs. Keep these for one year, and match them to your W2 form before you shred.
- Credit card reports. Shred these after 45 days.
- Tax returns
- Utility and phone bills
- Old credit cards (as soon as they expire)
One thing to keep in mind, if you are choosing to use a paper shredding service, make sure to ensure the documents get shredded right away. This is because documents are the most at risk for an identity breach when they are awaiting disposal.
Don’t risk your security; invest in document destruction today.