Audio Version: Let Me Hear It!
Mail has been opened, bills have been paid and your files have been updated. Mission accomplished! But, before you strut your satisfied self to the trash with sorted mail and old documents, think twice about what you throw away. Consider tossing personal information the equivalent of leaving keys in an unlocked car. Can you say, “Pick me, criminal. Pick me!”?
Allow us to answer the questions we know are running through your mind right about now…
What do I (really) need to shred? …Are you sitting down? Ok, good, because almost all mail that comes your way is worth shredding. Criminal-friendly information includes your address, medical details, birth date, account numbers, Social Security number and, of course, passwords. You should be shredding your utility bills, credit card and bank statements, explanations of medical benefits and most old receipts. Not to worry, you can still toss the unsolicited discount booklets, investment prospectuses available online and that stack of magazines you’ll never get around to reading.
What do I (really) need to keep? It’s tough to remember what is file-worthy. Generally, you’ll want to save legal documents forever, tax documents for seven years and everything else less than a year. Keep our handy list by your desk so you’ll know what can go to shredsville and when.
But, what if I hate shredding? In the words of The Fray, “sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.” We’re not fans of shredding for hours either, so consider a shred party while catching up on your DVR or paying your local FedEx Office or other professional shredding company a visit to do the dirty work. One pound of shred can run for under a dollar.
So, no more excuses for careless discarding! This month is dedicated to protecting your identify for a reason – so keep it classy, not trashy.