SHREVEPORT, LA. (KTAL/KMSS) — Is your house a rat’s paradise? Paper documents are everywhere, we create a paper trail everywhere from home to work. Most documents have some piece of personal information that is required by law to be shredded.
Shredding prevents identity theft, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
There are several ways scammers can steal your identity in-person, online through social media the use of public Wi-Fi networks, and by phone.
They could use your personal information to get services or benefits, steal your medical benefits, take a loan in your name, and they could even rent a place to live. All this can damage your credit status and cost you time and money to resolve.
According to the FTC, there are five ‘shredding categories’ to help protect your personal information and help determine how long individuals should keep certain documents.
Sales receipts, ATM receipts, paid credit card statements, paid utility bills, credit offers, canceled checks (that are not tax-related), and expired warranties.
Less obvious documents, after use: boarding passes, prescription labels, pet medical documents, resumes, and return labels.
Up to 1 year
Pay stubs, bank statements, paid, undisputed medical bills.
After 7 years
Tax-related receipts, tax-related canceled checks, W-2s, and records for tax deductions.
- Auto titles: Keep secure as long as the vehicle you own the vehicle;
- Home deeds: Keep secure as long as you own the property;
- Disputed medical bills: Keep until the issue is resolved and;
- Home improvement receipts: Keep until you sell your home and pay any capital gains taxes.
Keep Forever – FTC recommends keeping these documents in a safe.
Birth certificates, social security cards, marriage/divorce decrees; citizenship papers; passports; adoption papers; death certificates, wills and power of attorney, and tax returns.
Protect your child’s information:
There are six federal laws requiring institutions and insurance companies to regularly shred their documents.
Understand your rights under the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). It protects the privacy of student records and under FERPA schools are required to notify parents and guardians about their school directory.
There are document shredding facilities like UPS Stores and FedEx. Experts say to make sure they provide you with a ‘certificate of destruction’ afterward and search if the company is on the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Secondly, use a home shredder and as a last resort, scissors.