Shred Sensitive Documents To Help Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

 

Previously, we discussed the benefits of a locking mailbox to help secure your mail and the sensitive information that lies within it. But what happens after you safely retrieve and process your mail? What do you do with your paid credit card bills, utility bills, sales receipts and tax or insurance statements? SHRED THEM NOW! Identity thieves can't steal what they can't access or read. After one year, you may also want to shred bank statements, pay stubs, and medical bills. Of course, not every piece of paper can be, or should be, shred and recycled. The Federal Trade Commission recommends keeping the following materials in a fireproof safe, safety deposit box, or other securely locked place:

 

      * Birth certificates or adoption papers

 

      * Social Security cards

 

      * Passports or citizenship papers

 

      * Marriage licenses or divorce decrees

 

      * Death certificates of family members

 

      * Auto titles and home deeds

 

      * Tax returns

 

While you want to keep your tax returns on file in perpetuity, the FTC indicates that it is safe to shred tax-related receipts and canceled checks after seven years. The IRS has three years to call for an audit, but in certain cases that deadline can be extended to seven years.

 

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