How Long Should You Keep Documents and What to Shred

How Long Should You Keep Documents and What to Shred

It’s awesome that we’re able to store data on a computer, on a server or in the cloud. However, not all data is digital. There’s physical data such as business information, client records and employee files that start out as ink and paper. Keeping track of paper documents can be a pain. How long is it necessary to keep tax documents, receipts, bank statements and other importance documents? Each of these types of documents are different from each other, so its important to know how long to keep each before throwing it into the shredder, even if you think you do not need it anymore.

Cut Out the Extra Paper Waste

One of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of paper you have to shred is by filtering the amount of paper you receive to begin with. By doing this, you will not waste time shredding excess paper for no reason. This means its time to cut out the junk mail that shows up to your business. Set up new and existing bills so you can pay them electronically and reduce the number of monthly documents that come in through the mail. Do not accept flyers, coupons, or telephone books. Lastly, throw out catalogs that will never read and unsubscribe to them. There is no point hanging onto them when you know no one’s ever going to read them.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint with Digital Storage

Once you finish the steps above, the next thing you need to focus on is setting up an electronic filing system that will help you save space and reduce future paper clutter. It is important to make good use of it. With an electronic system, you can store and access files, documents, and receipts by computer and even your phone. To further the need for one, electronic systems allow you to make extra backups of your data, in-office or off-site, allowing you to shred documents on-site without fear of losing important data.

All you need to do is use a scanner to scan in your current paper documents and create a simple document file system on your computer to keep track of it all. Set up simple folders for your different types of documents (taxes, phone bills, subscriptions, rent, etc.). Do not worry about being too precise with your digital document storage since you can always use the search tool to find a document in question. When you’re scanning in your documents, be sure to give each one of them a unique filename that makes it easy to identify what the document is and makes it easy to search for. It is good practice to append the name of the file with a reference date to distinguish it from recurring documents (i.e. utilitystatement-July2020.pdf).

Documents to Store Forever

At the end of the day, there are a number of documents that you need to keep around forever. This is true, both at a personal and business level. You cannot simply scan your birth certificate and destroy its physical form; the same goes for a lot of business records. Some things you may always want to keep in a secure, organized filing cabinet include:

  • Academic Records – Transcripts, Diploma and any portfolio work related to the job.
  • Business/Operation Licenses
  • Driver Records
  • Employee Records – Any clauses, agreements, disciplinary files, and performance reviews.
  • Submitted Medical Records
  • Retirement and Pension Records

Temporary Documents to Keep

There are some types of documents that do not need to stick around and clutter your workplace and take up excess file space. If you are the type to keep opened mail statements in a drawer, there is a good chance that stack is outrageously big. Some documents, like financial ones, only need to stick around for a certain period of time. You may reference to them monthly or weekly for a while, but after you will never need them again. The tricky part is knowing how long each of these documents need to stick around for. We recommend the following:

  • Bank Statements – 1 Month
  • Bills – 1 Year for Tax/Warranty related; Shred bills upon payment
  • Credit Cards – Shred immediately once paid
  • Investment Records – 7 Years after closing an account or selling a security
  • Leases – Until you move your location
  • Paychecks/Paystubs – 1 Year or upon receiving your W-2 for that tax year
  • Tax Documents – 7 Years, including proof of filing and any accompanying documents like W-2s and receipts
  • Vehicles – Keep documents around while the vehicle is under your name

Know What Documents to Shred

When you feel like you no long need the following documents, be sure to shred them and save yourself some space. Only shred these documents if you are 100% certain you have no further need for them:

  • Airline tickets, travel itineraries and used luggage tags
  • ATM receipts and bank statements
  • Canceled and voided checks
  • Credit card bills and reports
  • Employment documents with identifying information
  • Expired driver’s licenses, passports and visas
  • Investments account numbers
  • Legal documents
  • Investment, stock, and property transactions
  • Items with a signature (leases, contracts, letters, etc.)
  • Medical and dental records
  • Papers with a Social Security number
  • Passwords or PIN numbers
  • Pay stubs and paycheck information
  • Pre-approved credit card applications
  • Receipts with checking account numbers, credit card numbers, or any other identifying information
  • Transcripts with identifying information
  • Utility bills (telephone, gas, electric, water, cable TV, internet, etc.)

Save Yourself Time at the Paper Shredder

Taking the time out of your day to go to feed paper through a shredding machine can take a lot longer than you think. Shredding a single file can take several minutes with all of the steps involved, which may include –

  • Oiling the shredder blades
  • Removing straggling paper clips or staples
  • Straightening any sheets of paper
  • Running the paper through the shredder
  • Cleaning up any paper particles
  • Disposing of the shredded waste

However, you cannot just skip on shredding. Simply crumpling up important documents and throwing them in the wastebasket is one of the worst ways to dispose of sensitive data. Instead of worrying about making time in your day to sit at the paper shredder, let us help. Shred Confidential is a leader in the industry, providing convenient paper shredding services from Los Angeles out to Riverside and down to San Diego. Let us handle all your document destruction while you focus on what is more important, like taking care of your business. We work on-site and off-site, providing a number of solutions to fit your needs.

If you’re interested in a reliable, convenient paper shredding service, call Shred Confidential today at (866) 817-4733 or contact us online.

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