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Shred it or keep it?

Part of living well is protecting yourself from identity theft. Document shredding is an important way to dispose of confidential information and protect yourself from fraudsters.

But how do you know what documents you should hold on to — and when it’s OK to shred others? Here are three categories of documents to help you decide.

Keep forever

  • Permanent records of major financial events, such as legal filings or inheritances
  • Birth and death certificates
  • Social Security cards or passports
  • Marriage licenses
  • Divorce decrees

Keep for a while

7 years for supporting tax documentation

  • Documents that verify information on your tax return (W-2 and 1099 forms, tuition payments, charitable donation receipts)
  • Statements that show transactions used for tax-related expenses (business, medical, home improvement, or major purchases)
  • Annual statements from mutual funds and retirement accounts (401(k), 403(b), IRAs)

1 year for regular statements and pay stubs

  • Monthly bank and credit card statements from past year
  • Pay stubs (to verify the accuracy of your W-2 form when tax season arrives)

Keep most recent

  • Once payments are applied, utility, cable, and cell phone bills can be shredded
  • Withdrawal and deposit slips until verified on your monthly statement
  • Shred mutual fund and retirement account statements as new ones arrive (keep evidence of IRA contributions until you withdraw money)
  • Credit card statements can be shredded after 45 days, unless needed for tax and business records or as proof of purchase

Today's Rates

December 2, 2022