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Here are some guidelines on which documents should be shredded and which ones should be kept forever.
The following documents typically contain enough sensitive information that you should shred them after a certain point.
|Document||How Long to Keep|
|Business Money Market Savings Accounts||
|Investment records & statements||
|Bank statements & canceled checks||
|ATM receipts||Keep ATM receipts only until you have compared them with your latest bank statement(s).|
|Credit card statements||It may be useful to keep these for some period—perhaps one year—in case there is a dispute, you want to return an item, or to analyze your spending.|
|Credit card receipts||Keep credit card receipts until you are sure you will not return the item. Otherwise, retain them only until you have compared them with your latest statement(s).|
|Insurance||Keep insurance policies and claims details for as long as the policy is in effect, or any pending/potential claims are resolved.|
|Home financial information||Keep deeds, mortgages and information on home improvements for as long as you own the home, plus the three-year period for tax purposes, if applicable.|
Destroying Paper Files
The best shredder is the cross-cut type, which rips documents into tiny pieces that would be extremely difficult for a criminal to re-assemble.
If you don't own a shredder, commercial shredding services are available. And many financial institutions or community organizations offer public events where you can take your documents to be shredded.
Destroying Digital Files
CDs, DVDs and floppy disks containing personal information should be shredded, destroyed or made unusable in some manner.
Computer hard drives deserve special attention, since simply deleting files or reformatting the drive does not permanently remove all the data. Before disposing, recycling or donating a PC, the hard drive should be removed and physically destroyed.
Some files should be kept forever. They include: