Disposing of sensitive documents

It’s spring cleaning time, and you may be thinking about purging old documents that are taking up space in your home. But what should you get rid of, and how?

According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), you should keep tax documents for seven years, documents related to homeownership or upgrades for six years after selling the home, and loan documents until the loan is paid off – or even indefinitely in case you need proof of repayment. For other kinds of records, statements and documents, timelines can vary. You should talk to your financial advisor about the best course of document-retention action for your specific situation.

Once you’ve determined which documents to discard, you’ll have to decide how you prefer to destroy them. Some people choose to pulp or burn their documents, but shredding is probably the most common method of destruction.

If you’re buying a shredder to use at home, look for a cross-cut or diamond-cut/micro-cut model, which will produce smaller, more secure shreds and smaller amounts of waste. If you don’t want to take the time to shred documents using an at-home shredder, you can take them to a facility that shreds onsite or find a local shredding company that will bring a receptacle to your home or office for either a one-time shred or a regularly scheduled shred – preferably while you watch, in both cases.

In addition, you can sometimes find community events that will allow you to conveniently shred documents at low or no cost, like DCECU’s free Shred-It Events for members. We will host our next event from 1 to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24, in the credit union parking lot. Representatives from Shred Experts – a paper-shredding company with security-trained employees and secure equipment – will provide a safe and secure means to dispose of sensitive information. Members are welcome to bring up to three bags of documents to shred.


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