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To Shred, or Not to Shred?

Posted on 04/05/19

Q. What documents should I shred?

A. Start by shredding junk mail and old papers that carry your Social Security number (but don’t destroy your Social Security card), birth date, signature, account numbers, passwords or PINs.

Shred deposit slips and ATM and credit card receipts immediately after you get your monthly statements. Shred used airline tickets, unneeded medical bills, preapproved credit card applications and expired IDs such as driver’s licenses, medical insurance cards and passports.

Some more shredding advice:

• Hold on to bank statements and canceled checks (or copies) for one year, but keep checks needed for your tax returns—such as charitable donations or tax payments—for seven years.

• Papers and checks related to a home purchase or sale, or improvements, and contributions made to an IRA, should be kept indefinitely.

• Shred paycheck stubs after the income is noted on a W-2 or other tax form (this is one reason why community shredding events often occur in the spring, after tax season).

• Shred monthly retirement and investment account statements after you get the annual statement for the entire year. Keep the annual statement indefinitely.

• Keep utility bills for one year if you want to compare that month’s costs to the previous year. Otherwise, shred them sooner.

What not to shred:

• Do not shred original Social Security cards, birth certificates, mortgage paperwork, deeds or wills. However, some experts recommend shredding unneeded photocopies of those documents.

AARP Alabama wants to help protect you and make it easy for you to shred your important documents! That’s why we sponsor FREE shredding events across the state several times throughout the year. Check out our 2019 events below and click on the date to see more information:


Saturday, April 27, 2019 at 8:30 AM – 12 PM
Redstone Federal Credit Union (Wynn Drive Main Branch)
220 Wynn Dr NW, Huntsville, Alabama 35805


Monday, April 22 – Friday, April 26 from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Secure Destruction Service
221 Distribution Drive, Homewood, AL 35209

Monday, May 20, 2019 at 11 AM – 1 PM 
Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena
500 Amphitheater Rd, Pelham, Alabama 35124


Friday, April 5, 2019 from 7:00 AM – 12:00 noon
Garrett Coliseum
1555 Federal Dr, Montgomery, Alabama 36107

This story is provided by AARP Alabama. Visit the AARP Alabama page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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