Guidelines for Shredding Documents

Are you about to head off to the shredder to take care of a stack of documents? Well, hang on just one second. When it comes to using shredding services, not all documents are equal. You need to be aware of which documents you can shred and which you can’t. Sometimes you can actually get in trouble with the government for destroying or keeping certain documents, so it pays to check up on state and federal law. It differs from place to place, so do your research. Let’s look at the different kinds of documents most people have in their lives, and the procedures for saving or shredding them.

Pay stubs: You may need these for tax or insurance reasons, so save them for at least a year. Experts recommend saving tax-related documents for about seven years, so if you have a spare drawer with some space in it, it can’t hurt to set them aside. Once you’re sure you won’t need them anymore, use shredding services to destroy and discard them.

Credit, debit, and ATM receipts: Unless you’re saving them for tax purposes, you can have these receipts shredded immediately after checking the amounts against your monthly card statements.

Less important tax documentation: While you should never shred the copies of your actual tax returns, there’s typically no need to keep supporting documentation like W-2s and 1099s for more than three years. Use ultra-secure shredding services to dispose of them.

Bank deposit slips and budgets: Especially if you own a small business, it’s important to hang onto these for about three years, so you can have proof of your financial transactions if the need arises. Nobody ever anticipates an IRS audit, but you should be ready for one all the same. After three years, it’s safe to shred these.

Vendor invoices, payroll tax returns, and purchase orders: Again, this is more useful for the business owner than for a typical individual, but you should keep these documents for at least seven years before using secure shredding services to dispose of them.
Anything with your signature, credit card number, legal information, or Social Security number: Keep these however long you need to (everyone’s situation is different), then shred them. Throwing them in the trash without having them properly destroyed can lead to disastrous consequences like identity theft. So keep yourself safe and shred them beyond recognition!

Neglecting to shred documents can result in negative consequences—it’s not too difficult for information to find its way into the wrong hands. So, how should you go about shredding your sensitive documents once you don’t need to save them anymore? The best way, especially if you’re a business owner and have stacks of paper to get through, is to hire a secure record shredding company. Professional shredding services are able to make sure that nobody can get hold of that information again. Make sure to look up ratings and reviews before you use a shredding service; it’s important to find one that you can trust unconditionally.