Important Documents to Shred

Shred documents you no longer need before indentity thieves get to them.
Shred documents you no longer need before indentity thieves get to them. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Identity theft is on the rise, so properly shredding important documents you no longer need to keep is important. Many people keep old receipts, bank statements, credit card statements and other paperwork with account numbers or Social Security numbers on them because they think they are necessary. Keeping these items only provides useful information for those who are looking to steal your identity.

Tax Papers

Items needed for tax purposes are often kept for seven years, in fear of an audit. According to the IRS website, items such as W2s, tax return copies, bank statements used in tax returns, supporting records such as items you claimed and other deductions should be kept on file for seven years. Pay stubs should be shredded because they contain Social Security numbers and all the other vital information identity thieves need to take over. If you are applying for a mortgage, keep pay stubs for at least three months.

Credit Card/ Debit Card Statements

Credit card and debit card statements should be shredded regularly. If the statement includes a large purchase or something with a warranty, keep it for that purpose, but otherwise, shred them after you've had a chance to review them. If you are using your credit card for charitable contributions, save those statements. Debit card statements should be shredded after you compare the statements to your check book for any errors. As with credit cards, if any large purchases were made or donations made using the debit card, keep those statements.


Any receipts that are not necessary for warranties on purchases or tax deductions should be shredded regularly. These receipts often contain credit card numbers along with an expiration date or an account number of some type. Once these receipts are entered into your checking or debit log, you should dispose of them by shredding instead of just throwing them in the trash. Identity thieves will dig through the trash looking for anything they can use to put together a card number.

Expired Cards/Applications

Expired cards, such as credit cards, bank cards, drivers license identification cards, passports, visas and any military identification cards, should be shredded regularly as they contain important personal information that can ruin your credit if these items are found by someone looking to steal your identity. Although these cards have expired, identity thieves may be able to use the information on the cards to open new accounts.

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