Let 'er rip to protect your identity: what should be shredded

STCU will offer free shredding on April 29

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Any victim of identity theft, fire, or flood will be glad for the time taken in advance to file and store critical records. And, if you've ever had to settle the estate of a friend or loved one, you'll be relieved if you find official records in one, organized location.

Experts say that most Americans handle over 700 pounds of paper every year. Most of these documents can be touched once, and then recycled. Yet we all have some valuable identification records, financial statements, contracts or receipts that we ought to file and store in a safe place for easy retrieval later on.

Here's a quick guide to evaluate what records you should keep — and for how long — when sorting through the growing amount of paperwork arriving each year.

One year or less

Most of these records can be safely shredded after just one year or less:

  • ·         Pay stubs and bank statements.
  • ·         Annually updated Social Security statements.
  • ·         Annual insurance policy statements.
  • ·         Annual retirement plan statements (401(k), 529, IRA, etc.).
  • ·         Bank deposit and ATM receipts until reconciled with your monthly statements.
  • ·         Credit card bills and statements. Longer if needed as proof of a charitable contribution or product warranty.
  • ·         Utility bills.

 Three years

Keep thank-you letters from charities and year-end investment statements, in case of IRS audit.

 Six years

Keep documents showing home sale, purchase, or expenses for improvements for six years after you sell your home.

 Seven years

Keep state and federal tax records and receipts for seven years, saving a copy of your 1040 tax return forever.

What to keep

So what documents should you keep only until they're sold or updated, and what should you never shred? Get the full list at http://bit.ly/1Tu8Yyf

Shred it, free!

STCU's next free shred day will be held April 29 in Coeur d'Alene, Liberty Lake and north Spokane. Get the details at http://bit.ly/Shred17

 

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