What to Shred and What to Keep

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported an estimated 17.6 million United States citizens were victims of identity fraud in 2014. From 2012 to 2014, there was a 24% increase in the amount of identity fraud victims over the age of 55. Of the 85% of Americans who were not reported victims of identity fraud, 68% of those people shredded their sensitive documents. Shredding is a major way to protect yourself from fraud, but knowing what to keep and what to shred is the first step to security.

When it comes to the IRS, holding onto specific documents with sensitive material can be as important as shredding other documents. Typically, any document that contains your address, full name, and social security number should be shredded as soon as possible. These documents include: airline tickets, bank statements, ATM receipts, and utility, cable, and phone bills-depending on your place of work. Although, tax records should be kept anywhere from three to seven years.

If you find yourself estimating on your tax returns opposed to using a reliable document to find the sum of your return, you should hold onto those records indefinitely in case the IRS sues you for tax return fraud. If a case arises, they will ask for your records.

If you miss the tax return deadline for a specific year, the documents necessary to file the tax return for that year should be kept indefinitely. If you invested in a stock, bond, or another security that lost its value entirely, or, if you, for example, loaned money to a business and that business went bankrupt, you must hold onto the worthless security or bad debt claim for seven years. If none of those situations apply to you, it is still recommended you keep your tax return records for at least three years. For safety, keep these records in an out-of-the-way storage place, or, keep these records on digital storage options if space is of the essence. When the seven year deadline arrives for the records that are eligible to be thrown away, documents need to be shredded.

Keeping paid cable, telephone, and utility bills throughout the year is unnecessary unless you work from your home. In this case, keeping these bills is important to receive deductibles from taxes. Once you pay these bills and you don’t work from your home, shred these documents to protect yourself.

Documents like marriage licenses, divorce decrees, social security cards, birth certificates, wills, and life insurance policies should not be destroyed intentionally under any circumstance. These crucial documents should be kept in a safe place, like fireproof safes, or a safe deposit box from your bank. These records should be kept indefinitely.

Keeping yourself, and your bank accounts protected is vital. Most document shredders shred paper in strips, but for added protection, cross-shredders are available that cuts papers in tiny pieces. Taking documents to a shredding company can be a cheaper alternative, as long as you watch your documents being shredded, opposed to leaving sensitive material in the hands of the company.

On May 6th, D. Gates Wealth Management is hosting a community shredding party. You can bring old documents to our office located at 1227 Del Prado Blvd, South. Cape Coral, 33990. While watching your old records be destroyed, Danielle Gates will be available to guide you in your journey to financial security and can answer any additional questions you may have.

For more information about D. Gates Wealth Management, please visit our website at www.dgateswealthmanagement.com, or call our offices at 239.424.8305