By Jerri Stroud, BBB Editor
With the due date for federal and state income taxes just past, chances are that you’ve had to gather up a lot of papers that have sensitive information on them. Those kinds of papers could be a gold mine for identity thieves if you fail to keep them safe, Better Business Bureau advises.
As you finish up your taxes and put this year’s tax papers away, consider how many of the papers you need to keep on hand and how you can keep them safe. For the most part, if the paper was important for doing your taxes, you should keep it for at least eight years, accountants say. If possible, keep the papers in a locked file cabinet or another safe place. Don’t leave them out in plain sight.
Most people have many more papers than they need. Most credit card and bank statements don’t need to be kept more than three years. Keep any that contain records of purchases you may need for future taxes or to prove when you bought a valuable item like a computer or major appliance. Keep any bank records related to purchasing a home until you sell the house. Any other bank or credit card statements can be shredded.
Old identification cards or expired credit or debit cards should be destroyed. Cut through the numbers on the cards to make it more difficult for a thief to decipher them.
Bills can be shredded after you get a canceled check or confirmation that payment has been made.
Pay stubs should be kept until you get your W-2 form. You may need to keep the last pay stub of the year if you itemize deductions like medical insurance payments, union dues and the like.
Now the good news: BBB is sponsoring a shred day to help you safely dispose of outdated but sensitive papers. You can get up to three bags or boxes of documents shredded free. Here are the details:
Saturday, April 26, from 8 a.m. to noon at two locations:
- The southeast parking lot of Saint Louis Galleria, near the intersection of Brentwood Boulevard and Interstate 64.
- The parking lot of the Edwardsville Schnucks, 2222 Troy Road in Edwardsville, Ill.