BBB Offers Guideline for Shredding Sensitive Documents
RALEIGH, N.C. (April 11, 2011) ― Contrary to popular belief, the overwhelming majority of identity theft occurs when a thief has direct contact with the victim’s personal information. Although online hackers and phishing scams dominate media headlines, a report by Javelin Strategy and Research notes that more than 89 percent of all identity fraud happens through stolen bank statements; lost or stolen wallets, checkbooks or credit cards; or other off-line means. BBB serving Eastern North Carolina (www.bbb.org) encourages consumers to take action in protecting their identity, and offers the following guideline on what and when to shred sensitive documents.
Canceled checks with no long-term significance for tax or other purposes can be destroyed after one year. However, canceled checks that support tax returns, such as charitable contributions or tax payments, should be held for at least seven years—long enough to cover the six-year tax assessment period. BBB advises that consumers indefinitely keep any canceled checks and related receipts or documents for a home purchase or sale, renovations or other improvements to owned property, as well as non-deductible contributions to an Individual Retirement Account.
Credit card and bank account statements
Credit card and bank account statements with no tax or other long-term significance can be discarded after a year; remaining statements should be kept for up to seven years. If a consumer receives a detailed annual statement, they should keep it and shred the corresponding monthly statements.
Credit card contracts and other loan agreements
Credit card contracts and loan agreements should be kept for as long as the account is active in case the consumer has a dispute with their lender over the terms of the contract.
Deposit, ATM, credit card and debit card receipts
Consumers should save credit, debit and ATM receipts until the transaction appears on their statement and they have verified that the information is accurate.
Documentation of a purchase or sale of stocks, bonds and other investments
Investors should retain documentation of a purchase or sale for as long as they own the investment and then seven years beyond that time. Monthly retirement and monthly investment account statements can be shredded annually after being reconciled with the year-end statement.
Paycheck stubs can be shredded yearly after the income has been reconciled with a W-2 or other tax forms.
Utility or monthly bills
Monthly bills should be shredded the year after being received by the consumer. This way, if it is a power bill, for example, consumers can compare this month's bill to last year's bill for any major changes before shredding it.
“Not only is it imperative that consumers know where documents containing sensitive information are at all times, but they must also take action to dispose of these items securely,” says Toby Barfield, president and CEO of BBB serving Eastern North Carolina. “Doing so can lower the risk of being victimized by dishonest individuals looking to prey on unsuspecting consumers.”
Additionally, BBB is hosting its semi-annual "Secure Your ID" Day on April 16, 2011. The local shredding event will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the parking lot of Coastal Federal Credit Union, located off Wake Forest Road at 1000 St. Albans Drive, Raleigh, NC 27609.
Participants are encouraged to bring up to three boxes or bags of documents that have been removed from binders. At the event, BBB and other partner organizations will provide tips and resources to help consumers protect their identity.
Below are recommended items to bring to the shredding event:
• Documents that include Social Security numbers, birthdates, PIN numbers or passwords
• Banking documents and other financial information
• Leases, contracts or letters that include signatures
• Pre-approved credit card applications
• Medical or dental bills
• Travel itineraries
• Used airline tickets
BBB’s “Secure Your ID” Day is presented locally by Coastal Federal Credit Union, with free shredding provided by PROSHRED® Security and Cintas Document Management. Event information is available at www.easternnc.bbb.org/secure-your-id.
About BBB serving Eastern North Carolina:
Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina is a 501 (c)(6) not-for-profit corporation serving 33 counties in Eastern North Carolina. The organization is funded primarily by BBB Accredited Business fees from more than 2,900 local businesses and professional firms. The BBB promotes integrity, consumer confidence and business ethics through business self-regulation in the local marketplace. Services provided by the BBB include, reports on companies and charitable organizations, general monitoring of advertising in the marketplace, dispute resolution services, and consumer/business education programs. All services are provided at no cost to the public, with the occasional exception of mediation and arbitration. Visit bbb.org.
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Brian Van Norman