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What Should You Shred?
If you are like most people, you end up with a lot of paper. Tax returns, bank statements, bills and more pile up. Even if you have gone electronic, you probably have paper from years ago. And you know that just tossing that in the trash or the recycling bin leaves you vulnerable to identity theft. You know you should shred. But what?
Msn.money lists eight things you should definitely take to the shredder:
Old tax returns. You should keep returns for at least three years, but it is not necessary to keep them for decades. However, remember that they have important identifying information such as your Social Security number – and the numbers of your spouse and dependents. They should always be shredded.
Bank statements. These might have your Social Security number, and they definitely have your account number. So shred the old ones and then stop receiving paper statements. Almost all banks keep statements online. If you need a paper copy for some reason, you can print it out. Then, when you are done using it, shred it.
Credit card offers. You probably get several letters a week asking you to open a credit card. Shred these. If you just toss them out with the trash, someone could find the letter and open the account in your name.
Outdated photo IDs. Maybe you want to keep an old driver’s license or college ID for your memory box. But if you do not, shred it. It could contain information that could be used to steal your identity.
Pay stubs. These contain information, such as the amount of your last paycheck, that banks and other lenders often use to confirm identity or as part of the process of making a loan.
Credit card checks. Your credit card company probably sends you checks you can use to draw against your account. Shred these, because someone else could use them if you don’t.
Canceled checks. Most banks don’t send canceled checks anymore; they keep the records online. But if you have some old ones lying around, don’t just toss them. They have your bank number on the bottom of the check, and they also provide an excellent sample of your signature.
Canceled credit or debit cards. Theoretically, since the card is canceled, no one should be able to use it. But it’s better to be safe. If your shredder can’t do plastic, cut the card into several pieces and throw out in separate bags of trash.