7 Documents You're Probably Forgetting to Shred

To shred or not to shred? This is an especially vital question in these days of identity theft, when access to your personal details makes you vulnerable to attack. The best course of action is to invest in a quality shredder and err on the side of caution. So, before you start tossing out any more documents, take some guidance from these helpful tips.

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  1. Birth and Death Announcements

    Birth announcement

    Identity thieves target kids and the deceased. Outsmart them by shredding birth announcements, keeping your child's date of birth off social media, and minimizing use of their social security number. If you’ve lost a loved one, keep documents that are still active, like wills and property deeds. Scan and shred the rest.


    Related: 10 Things a Burglar Doesn't Want You to Know

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  2. Travel Plans

    Travel documents

    Boarding passes contain bar codes that thieves can use to hack your airline accounts. Shred printable confirmations and trip itineraries, which also contain your account information. Are you moving houses or states? Important documents can get lost in the shuffle; create a special file so nothing goes missing and falls into the wrong hands.


    Related: 11 Ways You May Be Inviting Burglars Into Your Home

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  3. Old Financial Documents

    Earnings statement

    Once they’re paid or balanced, shred credit card and bank statements—and cut up those expired credit cards! Past pay stubs can also be shredded (electronic copies may be available through your employer). Wondering how long you should keep tax docs? The IRS provides detailed guidelines: Seven years is a good rule of thumb.


    Related: 10 Ways to Burglar-Proof Your Home for Under $100

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  4. Junk Mail

    Junk mail

    Those letters pestering you to open a credit account could be bait for thieves. If they get their hands on the offer letter, unsavory characters could sign up for a pre-approved loan or start a credit line in your name. Instead of going on the defensive by shredding whatever ends up in your mailbox, you can opt out of receiving junk mail by following instructions from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).


    Related: 9 Little Tricks to Make Trash Day Less of a Chore

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  5. Job Applications

    Job application

    Extra résumés and old job applications should be shredded. The info they contain, such as your home address, phone number, and links to social media accounts, are all clues for potential thieves. Another caveat: In this “gig economy,” be sure you are applying to a reputable source before you send out any personal info.


    Related: 8 Ways to Make It Look Like You’re Home When You’re Not

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  6. Academic and Professional Work

    Business report

    Protect yourself from plagiarism and wholesale theft of your intellectual property by scanning and then shredding those A+ papers and business reports. Keep an electronic portfolio of your best work, and share a hard copy only if it will be returned. On your résumé, indicate that writing samples can be requested.


    Related: 10 Decisions That Homeowners Never Regret

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  7. Memories

    Kid art

    Those boxes of childhood art in the attic? It may be time to cull and shred. No, those finger paintings won't put you at risk for identity theft, but they could be a real pain for your kids to sort through when you're gone. Declutter sooner rather than later. Gift any originals or create a scrapbook or digital memory archive of special artwork. The younger generations will thank you!


    Related—Ditch the Fridge: 7 New Ways to Display Children's Artwork

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