I often get asked what paperwork should be shredded.

I wish there was a clear cut answer, but there isn’t.  It really boils down to what your personal tolerance is regarding potential identity theft.

I’ve worked with clients that recycle everything (even tax documents) and don’t think twice about it, and other that shred everything with their name on it.  You need to figure out what you are comfortable with and set rules for yourself around that.

But generally speaking, consider shredding the following items that contain sensitive information that could lead to identity theft:

  • Old tax documents
  • Anything with your Social Security number on it
  • Bank Statements (though every time you write someone a check, it contains your bank account number)
  • Credit card statements (even though most don’t have your complete credit card number)
  • Any paper that contains usernames and passwords
  • Credit Card applications
  • Old credit cards
  • Paystubs (they usually contain your social security number)
  • Utility and household bills

I recycle most paper that I don’t shred.

So personally, I live by this rule – how would I feel if this document blew off the recycling truck? Would I be worried that someone could use it to steal my identity?

If I have any concern about this, I shred it. Better safe than sorry!