With the ongoing threat of identity theft, protecting personal information is essential. One of the ways that identity thieves gain access to sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers and birth dates, is by digging through dumpsters to look for documents. Shredding, especially with cross-cut or confetti shredders, helps ensure that identity thieves aren’t able to piece together paperwork that contains confidential information.
What to Shred
When getting rid of documents at home or at work, it’s important to shred documents that contain any of the following:
- Social Security numbers
- Account numbers
- Birth dates
- PIN numbers
Documents with signatures should also be shredded, since they make it easier for identity thieves to forge these signatures.
What Not to Shred
Certain documents should not be immediately shredded, even if they contain sensitive information. Junk mail, such as credit card offers, can be shredded right away, but other types of documents should be kept on file for a certain amount of time, such as the following:
- Medical records: When dealing with medical waste disposal, it’s crucial to make sure that medical records are handled correctly. Each healthcare facility has its own rules on how long these records should be retained, but all paper records should be thoroughly shredded when they are no longer needed. Patients should keep a copy of their medical records at home for up to five years.
- Financial statements: Credit card statements should be kept on file for at least 45 days, while bank statements should be retained for one year. Tax documents, mortgage payments and other important financial documents should be kept on file indefinitely in case they are needed.
- Insurance records: These should be retained for up to five years after the policy becomes inactive. This includes hospital bills, prescription information and other insurance information, such as car repairs.
Do you have company documents that need to be shredded and disposed of? Call us today at 203-937-9501.