With the yearly tax filing deadline just past, there's no better time to file away the sensitive papers you need to keep and dispose of those that you no longer need.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Consumer Fraud Task Force offer consumers and businesses a chance to safely destroy outdated but sensitive documents at a "Shred Day," Saturday, April 26, at two locations:
- Saint Louis Galleria in Richmond Heights, Mo. (southeast parking lot, I-64 at Brentwood Blvd)
- Schnucks in Edwardsville, Ill., 2222 Troy Road
Consumers can shred up to three boxes of documents from 8 a.m. to noon. BBB asks that consumers use bags or boxes that can be shredded along with papers. BBB will distribute information on identity theft protection.
Shred-It, a Securit company, is donating the shredding service.
"Shredding outdated documents is a great way to limit your exposure to ID theft," said Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO. "Protecting yourself is a must."
Officials recommend shredding any documents that contain financial information, account numbers, PINs, birthdates or Social Security numbers. Examples include expired ID cards, legal documents, credit card and bank statements and canceled checks.
For the documents that you need to keep, BBB recommends storing them in a locked drawer or file cabinet. A large part of the identity theft that occurs every year stems from a relative, friend or someone who works in your home stealing account numbers or other documents that are left in plain sight.
Here is a guide to some of the documents to keep and how long to keep them:
- Tax returns and supporting documents should be kept for eight years. Supporting documents may include charitable donation receipts, medical bills and property tax records, for example.
- Records on contributions to individual retirement accounts should be kept permanently.
- Retirement and savings plan statements should be kept from one year to permanently. Keep the monthly or quarterly statements until the end of the year, then keep the year-end statement and shred the others.
- Brokerage statements should be kept until you sell the securities. Sale and basis records should be kept with tax returns for eight years.
- Insurance policies should be kept for the life of the policy.
- Copies of bills should be kept until you have a canceled check or other confirmation that the bill has been paid. If they relate to taxes, they should be kept for eight years.
- Keep credit card receipts until you get the monthly statement, then shred receipts if the statements match. Statements should be kept for eight years if they include tax-related expenses.
- Paycheck stubs should be kept until you get your W-2 form. If the form matches your stubs, shred the stubs unless there's other information you need for taxes, such as union dues paid, health insurance costs or retirement plan contributions. Consider keeping the year's final stub for seven years or permanently.
- House records – such as purchase price and the cost of permanent improvements - should be kept permanently, or until seven years after you sell the house.
For more information on protecting your identity or to check out BBB Business Reviews or Charity Reviews, contact BBB at www.bbb.org or 314-645-3300.