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To Shred or Not to Shred – Protect Your Identity at BBB’s Annual Secure Your ID Day

4/3/2012

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In honor of National Financial Literacy Month, Better Business Bureau will hold a nationwide “Secure Your ID” Day on Saturday, April 21, 2012. Individuals and small businesses are encouraged to stop at one of the dozens of locations across North America set up by BBB for free document shredding. BBB staff will also be on site to provide expert advice and tips on identity theft, investment fraud, and other financial topics.

When looking through your documents to be shredded, BBB recommends considering a few tips before deciding what goes and what stays.

Whether you’re a pack-rat or a skimpy saver, it’s easy to confuse what should be saved versus what should be shredded when parsing through personal documents. With April 17th and last minute tax filing just around the corner, now is the perfect time to get your personal documents in order. Each person’s tax situation is different and can vary in complexity of records. Saving the appropriate documents should be based on the IRS Code, meaning that all documents should be saved based on the period of limitation of the return. For example, documents for settled accident reports/claims and expired contracts for mortgages, notes should be kept for 7 years, while property appraisals by outside appraisers should be kept permanently.

“Taking the time to shred the documents you don’t need and saving the documents you do can make a difference when it comes to securing your identity,” said Katherine Hutt, spokesperson for the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “It only takes one unshredded personal document to give a thief everything needed to steal your identity.”

Identity theft touched the lives of more than 8.1 million adult victims in 2010. According to a report from Javelin Strategy and Research, that theft resulted in the loss of $37 billion dollars. BBB is advising consumers and small businesses alike to know which personal documents should be shredded and which documents should be kept.

For a full records retention schedule, click here, and for more information on this year’s Secure Your ID Day, visit www.bbb.org/us/secure-your-id.

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