Prevent Identity Theft with Secure Document Shredding

January 18, 2018


El Paso, TX — Confidential document shredding is one of the most effective ways to protect identity. To help consumers Better Business Bureau (BBB) Paso del Norte, in partnership with Commercial Records Center and Sam’s Club, will hold a community Shred Event this Saturday, January 20th, from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. at Sam’s Club Cielo Vista, 7001 Gateway Blvd W.  

The first rule of identity protection is: If you don’t need it, shred it – responsibly. To reduce the risk of identity theft, consumers are urged to take a few minutes of their time to keep sensitive information out of the hands of criminals.   

“Protecting our personal information reduces the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft”, said Marybeth Stevens, President of BBB Paso del Norte.

Consumers can bring up to 100 pounds (3 bags or boxes) of documents with sensitive information to be securely shredded on the spot. Services are free, but donations will be gladly accepted. Funds collected support the BBB’s Foundation, whose mission is to educate the community regarding ethics and best consumer and business marketplace practices.

The following is some helpful information regarding time periods for retaining personal records.


Tax information & returns

a)      There is a general three year statute of limitation for your taxes. This means the IRS has three years from when you file your return to start an audit.

b)      Keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, if you file a claim for credit or refund after you file your return.

c)      Keep records for 7 years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction.

d)     Keep records for 6 years if you do not report income that you should report, and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return.

e)      Keep records indefinitely if you do not file a return.

f)       Keep employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.


Canceled checks

Canceled checks with no long-term significance for tax or other purposes can be destroyed after one year. 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 tax forms. These documents can include very important information including Social Security numbers and financial institution account numbers if you use direct deposit.


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. Unless you are claiming household expenses as tax deductions, there is no need to keep these types of records very long.


Home financial information

Deeds, mortgages, and Bills of Sales should be kept permanent; Real Estate Records of Improvement should be retained for length of home ownership.


Don’t just toss it, shred it! 

  • Documents that include Social Security, birth dates, 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 or used airline tickets