De-cluttering is a necessary process but throwing personal documents in trash is a big NO. You can be a victim of identity theft because wrongdoers can easily hunt through the trash bags and take information to get credit card on your name or exploit your health insurance details or use your SSN to cause trouble.
Each kind of document is crucial but there are some that need to be kept permanently [copies and digital form] and a few that need to be held for some specific time period. Rest of the documents need to be shredded but make sure that you use a certified paper shredding service for this task.
First Subset – Physical documents to be kept permanently [copies]
- Social security cards
- Birth & death certificates
- Marriage license
- Pension plan paperwork
- ID cards
- Business license
- Wills, power of attorney and living wills
- Insurance policy, if any
- House deeds & mortgage documents
- Loan documents & vehicle titles
Physical copies of documents related to federal or state matters including deeds, licenses, and certificates need to be kept safely. The main reason is that you will have to go in plenty of trouble to replace if any get such document gets lost.
Second subset – Digitize the crucial documents that needs to be kept for specific time period
- Bank statements and pay stubs [for 1 year]
- Medical bills and records [for 1 year in case of disputes]
- Home sale, purchase or renovation document [minimum 6 years]
- Tax records & receipts [ for 7 years]
- Warranty documents & purchase receipts [for a time period you own the equipment or appliance or tool]
Third subset – Most recent version of documents to be kept
- Annual insurance statement
- Social security statement
- Retirement plan statement
Organize all these properly in files and you are good. Copies and digital forms can be handy whenever, the time arises.
Shred everything else
Every other document holding your personal address, name, phone number, bank account details, ATM receipts, used airline tickets, credit card receipts, utility bills, has to be destroyed. Even visas, passports, credit cards and IDs that got expired has to be shredded.
Professional home shredding allows to protect your sensitive information getting misused and you adhere to the document destruction laws. Allow certified shredders to do the heavy task, whereas you get organized and de-cluttered.
Shred every document that carries your personal information and protect yourself from identity theft!