Hopefully you have a plan to go through your paper files periodically to purge out what is no longer needed. Whether it’s a last minute scramble to gather your tax information or an effort to file away this year’s information, your file cabinets will begin to be overstuffed if not purged. This raises an important question, “When should you shred your documents?”
Paper Tiger Filing System Software for Document Management is a system that helps many organize their paper clutter. We all know that where there’s paper, there might be clutter; therefore a good shredding system also needs to be implemented along side Paper Tiger. Below are six recommended groups to categorize when and what to shred. They are: Shred Now, Shred on a Monthly Basis, Shred on a Yearly Basis, Shred on a Seven or Ten Year Basis, Never Shred and finally Never Shred Until They Expire.
Disclaimer: This document is provided as a guide. Please check your government document policies for retention changes.
-Don’t you hate all the pesky credit card applications that come that you didn’t sign up for? Wouldn’t it be a bummer if someone ELSE applied for your credit card with your information? Be sure to shred those as soon as possible.
-Have you ever made a copy of your address, passport, SSN or other important information? Any piece of paper with confidential information on it, whether a copy or original, should be shredded. If you’re unsure about whether to shred it, just ask yourself this: “How would I feel if a complete stranger saw this?” You cannot be too careful considering the abundance of identity theft occurring.
-Are you still holding on to your expired identification cards, passports or bankcards? Be sure to shred any expired cards. This also includes employee badges and visas.
-Do you keep all of your credit card statements even AFTER you have paid the bill? Unless you are keeping these for other purposes, be sure to shred these.
-Do not hold on to cancelled checks and debit receipts after you’ve received your bank statement. Again, if you are not keeping these for tax purposes or warranties, they can be shredded.
-Do you still have your monthly statements from 2008? Any kind of monthly statement that also comes with a year-end statement can be shredded at the end of each year. This includes bills that are repeated on a monthly basis such as utilities.
-You really don’t need your Pay Stubs or 1099 Equivalents after you have settled your annual W-2 statements. These documents can be shredded on a yearly basis.
-You can shred any year-end bank statements every seven to ten years if you do not need them for tax purposes.
-Still have the deed to the old house from 1987? Any titles or deeds to property that you haven’t owned in seven years can be shredded.
-Married? Divorced? In the Service? Any vital documents such as marriage, divorce, birth or death certificates should never be shredded. These vital documents also include, military records, insurance policies, wills, social security reports, diplomas, degrees or transcripts, medical records or any other important information. If you are unsure, do not shred it! Once it has been shredded it can’t be recovered.
Once these documents have expired. It’s safe to shred and replace them with the current documents.
-Still hold the title to that 1979 Cutlass Supreme? Any titles or deeds to property that you haven’t owned in seven years can be shredded after they expire.
-The lease or rental contracts on your current properties are not to be shredded until they expire.
-Where is your benefits package from work? Gym membership? Cable contract? Any active documentation should not be shredded until they have expired. This includes, your pet records, current credit reports, loan contracts, and maintenance records for your home or car.
Always check your governing tax office, as well for changes in how long you should keep certain records. For the United States Internal Revenue Service, go to www.irs.gov. For Canadians, check Canada Revenue Agency. Now that you know what you can shred and when you can shred it, implementing/maintaining an index of keywords for the physical files you need to keep into your Paper Tiger Filing System Software database is the next step to stay organized, and you’ll be able to find files again when you need to retrieve them.