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Documents You Should Shred to Protect Yourself From ID Theft

Written by: Kristy Welsh

Last Updated: April 19, 2017

The only thing worse than having an out-of-control pile of receipts, statements, and other personal documents is getting rid of something you should have held on to. Or worse, not shredding something that dumpster-diving thieves use to steal your identity. Why take chances? Here's what to shred, and when.

Banking Documents You Should Shred

Regardless of whether you shred them or not, hold on to these receipts for up 45 days (or until after you have made sure they match up against your monthly statements). Exception: Hold on to receipts that show proof of payment for tax-related transactions.

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Credit Card Documents You Should Shred

Other Documents We Recommend Shredding

Of course, the best way of dealing with junk mail is to stop it. To opt out of credit card offers, go to

To opt out of other junk mail write: Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735. And call 1-800-407-1088. Include your complete name, name variations, and mailing address.

Shredding Options

If you're still using the old-school strip-cut shredder, think about switching to a cross-cut. The strip-cut shredder is less secure than the cross-cut as, theoretically, a thief could take the painstaking time to paste all of those thin strips of paper back together. Unlikely, yes. Impossible, no.

The cross-cut shredder is a great alternative, as it cuts paper into confetti-size pieces. Unfortunately, this does make the paper more difficult to recycle. Therefore, many people who use the cross-cut get creative with their confetti, using it in compost, as packing material, or as a fireplace starter.

While all of this may seem like a lot to remember and do, the learning curve is worth it. Just remember, if it's a document you're not sure you should get rid of, hold on to it. And if it's a document you know you can throw out, but aren't sure you need to shred, shred it anyway.

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