BBB Offers Timetable for Shredding Sensitive Documents

October 14, 2009

RALEIGH, N.C. (October 13, 2009)Properly destroying personal and financial documents is a key step in identity theft prevention. To assist consumers in this effort, BBB serving Eastern North Carolina offers advice on when to shred sensitive documents and is hosting a free document shredding event on October 17, 2009.

"When people think of ID theft they almost immediately focus on hackers and online security," says Beverly Baskin, president and CEO of BBB serving Eastern North Carolina. "But the truth is that most ID theft happens when people have failed to properly secure or destroy important financial information.

A report by Javelin Strategy and Research notes that, contrary to popular belief, only 12 percent of ID theft is perpetrated online. The vast majority occurs when the thief has direct contact with the victim's personal information.

To help consumers protect themselves, BBB offers the following information on when to shred sensitive documents:

Canceled checks
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, and non-deductible contributions to an Individual Retirement Account.

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.

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.

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
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's a power bill, for example, consumers can compare this month's bill to last year's bill for any major changes before shredding it.

In addition, BBB is hosting the "Secure Your ID" Day shredding event on Saturday, October 17 at Ridgewood Shopping Center on Wade Avenue. From 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., participants are encouraged to bring up to three bags or boxes of documents to be disposed of on-site.

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

Additional event information is available at

About BBB of Eastern North Carolina:
The 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