Paper and electronic documents are everywhere. In honor of Shred Day on October 2, we at Colorado Valley Communications want to remind you of the importance of shredding your personal information.
What to Shred?
So, the important question you’re probably asking is what needs to be shredded? The simple answer is: everything. Here’s why — half of every document has some piece of information that is required by law to be shredded. So how do you decide?
Confidential waste, such as medical records, salary details or personal address details, legally have to be disposed of correctly under the Data Protection Act. These documents should be shredded before being thrown out to ensure people’s data remains confidential.
Many people are surprised to learn that someone can legally dig through your trash once it has been placed for pickup. In California v. Greenwood, the United States Supreme Court found there is no expectation of privacy in trash that is left for collection in an area that is accessible to the public. This means that every document you put in your regular garbage is available to anyone with the desire to look through it.
When to Shred?
Destroying documents with your personal information reduces the likelihood of becoming an identity theft victim.
After paying credit card or utility bills, shred them immediately. Shred sales receipts, sales and cash withdrawal receipts from ATMs, junk mail credit card offers, as well as pharmacy labels before throwing away empty prescription bottles.
Within a year, destroy pay stubs, bank statements and medical bills that have been paid.
Many security professionals recommend that you shred many documents like tax records, tax-related documents, expired passports and driver’s licenses, copies of old birth certificates, old insurance policies and resumes after approximately seven years.
Examples of Documents You Should Always Shred
Address labels from junk mail and magazines
All discarded copier copies
Birth certificate copies
Canceled and voided checks
Credit and charge card bills, carbon copies, summaries and receipts
Credit reports and histories
Credit cards (Expired)
Documents containing maiden name
Documents containing names, addresses, phone numbers or email addresses
Documents relating to investments
Documents containing passwords or PIN numbers
Driver’s licenses or items with a driver’s license number
Employee pay stubs
Expired passports and visas identification cards/badges
Investment, stock and property transactions
Items with a signature
Medical and dental records
Papers with a Social Security number
Pre-approved credit card applications
Receipts with checking account numbers
Resumés or curriculum vitae
Used airline tickets
Any documents that are permanent records need to be kept in a secure manner. Locked file rooms, locked file cabinets, and safe deposit boxes are good options Here are some examples:
Birth certificates or adoption papers
Social Security cards
Citizenship papers or passports
Marriage or divorce decrees
Death certificates of family members
Also, keep auto titles and home deeds stored safely for as long as you own the property.
Online Security Tools
If you have any documents online, keep your information safe with our free internet security tools.
At Colorado Valley Communications, we offer free antivirus software, free spyware removal software and free online virus scanners, as well as other online security resources.
Visit our website today to learn more about how to keep you and your family safe from unwanted prying eyes online.