Shredding confidential documents at home may sound simple but it can become a challenging chore. The rule of thumb is to shred anything with your account numbers, signature or social security number. Many people also shred documents that have their address on them. No matter which records you decide to shred, it is important that you purchase a high-quality shredder. If you have a large amount of paper to shred, you may want to hire the services of a residential document shredding company.

Document Destruction Tips

Paper shredding can quickly become a task that is very time-consuming. Reduce the amount of paper that comes into your home by contacting your financial institutions, utility bills and credit card companies to send your statements electronically. You should not keep records like your paycheck stubs for longer than one week since most paycheck records can be printed on your company’s intranet. However, if you are applying for a mortgage, then you will want to save at least the last three months. Your paycheck stub is all a thief needs to open a financial account in your name.

How Long to Keep Records?

Keep ATM receipts until you balance your bank statement before you shred them. Your bank statements are not generally needed unless you are applying for a loan. With online banking, your financial institution has copies of your bank records. Keep medical insurance statements, hospital bills and premium statements for at least five years from the date of services.

Tax return records should be kept for at least six years. Some people keep their tax records for 10 years before shredding them. Home repair receipts and mortgage documents until the home is paid off. Keep the loan payoff documents as long as you own the home. Don’t keep utility bills longer than three months before they are shredded.

Identity Theft Prevention

The best way to prevent identity theft is to safeguard your personal documents. If you work on a laptop or iPad, be wary of public Wi-Fi systems where the information on your computer can be compromised. Avoid logging into your financial accounts when using public Internet systems. Do not keep your social security card in your wallet.

Create strong passwords for all electronic devices with a combination of symbols, letters and numbers. Protect your smartphone by not storing personal information on your phone. Over 62 percent of smartphone users do not protect their phones with passwords. Be careful about the information that you share on popular social media sites. Do not advertise your vacation plans with your friends and family members on social media. Never share your birthday information on public profiles to avoid becoming a victim of a crime or fraud.

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