Personal Documents—Understanding Which Ones to Keep and Which Ones to Shred

Personal documents contain a large amount of personal information. In a day and age where identities can be comparatively easily stolen, it’s not surprising that people are wondering how quickly they can shred a document or not.

A Little About Shredding

Before you discover which documents should be kept and which can be shredded, it’s worth taking a look at the various paper shredders on the market.

There are plenty of budget shredders available and they can be worth considering for some applications. However, most of these shredders use large blades. That means they make large cuts through the paper and only cut in one direction. If you then dispose of the shredded paper in one bin it is comparatively easy to piece the pieces back together and retrieve the information.

If you want to shred personal information at home you need to invest in a higher-quality and more expensive shredder. These will cut the paper into finer pieces and they also cut sideways. That makes it virtually impossible to put the paper back together and steal your details.

Personal Documents To Shred

The truth is that all personal documents should be shredded. If they have any of your details on it is best to shred them. The only question is when do you shred them?

  • Junk Mail

Junk mail is unwanted but still contains personal information. This may be just your name and address or it can be a lot more, such as when you receive a pre-approved credit card offer. You can shred all this straight away.

  • Payslips

Payslips contain a lot of personal information. Once you’ve checked your payslip you probably will never look at it again. In theory, it can be destroyed straight away. However, if you apply for a loan, mortgage, or even rent a new property, you may be required to show the last 3-6 months’ worth.

It’s worth saving them for this long and then shredding them as soon as they are older than 6 months.

  • Bank Statements

There is no reason to keep a bank statement or ATM receipt once you have checked the information you need to. In most cases, people don’t get paper statements anymore. But, if you do, check it and then shred it straight away. It’s safer that way and you can always get a copy if needed.

  • Tax returns

Legally you’ll need to keep your tax returns for 5 years. That means you can’t shred them until they are past five years old. However, as soon as this happens, shred them and make sure you use a high-quality shredder.

  • Other Documents

Old passports can be shredded as soon as they have been replaced. Pension statements and any other financial documentation should be checked and then shredded straightaway. You can always access the information online or request a duplicate.

The same is true of any boarding passes, insurance papers, and even medical records.

In short, official documents need to be kept for five years, everything else can be shredded straight away. It will help to protect your identity.

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