When it comes to disposing of important documents, shredding is vital. By shredding paperwork before it goes in the bin, you make it almost impossible for thieves and fraudsters to use that paperwork to learn more about you, which protects you from things like identity theft. It’s also important for businesses to recycle their paper documents to avoid data security risks, remain organised, and do their bit for the planet.
But which documents should you be shredding, and when? To help you keep your data safe (and your files organised), we’ve put together a handy list of the most common documents you need to shred – and when you should be shredding them.
Here’s six types of documents that should be on your shredding pile.
1. Old bank statements
Although many banks now offer digital versions of bank statements, some people and businesses still prefer to retain hard copies for their records. These hard copies can be useful for a number of purposes, including filing your taxes, providing proof of your address, and applying for loans.
However, after a while, these statements can start to stack up, which can clog up your filing cabinets and make it difficult to stay organised. To help streamline your document storage, it’s important to have regular clearouts of old bank statements – and to make sure they’re securely disposed of.
Because bank statements include a number of personal and financial details – including your full name, address, bank details, and information about recent transactions – it’s incredibly important to shred them before you dispose of them. Without shredding them first, thieves can use your personal information to try and steal your identity.
How long do you need to keep bank statements?
It’s a good idea to hang onto bank statements, but not forever. All bank statements, pay slips and credit card statements (once you’ve paid the bill) should be shredded and disposed of after one year.
Sales and ATM receipts, on the other hand, should be shredded after one month, unless you need them for tax purposes. In that case, it’s best to scan and store them digitally, then destroy them.
2. Packing slips and returns labels
This one’s easy to forget about. Whether it’s something for your business or a personal purchase, online orders are usually delivered with either a packing slip or a returns label (or both). These will usually include personal details like your name, address, and sometimes the last few digits of your debit or credit card number. Before your boxes and packaging go in the recycling bin, make sure to remove the identifying paperwork. All of this needs to be shredded.
3. Junk mail
With the rise of spam and promotional emailing, we tend to get less junk mail landing on our door mat. But it hasn’t stopped entirely. Usually, these letters will include identifying details, such as your name and address. So, when those unwanted letters come, make sure you shred them before they go in the bin.
4. Old ID cards
Another one for the shredding list is any old ID cards you have lying around. These might be old job or student IDs, but they could also be things like visitor and day passes. Although they might seem innocuous, they still feature your name and photo – both of which can be used to steal your identity.
But don’t forget, this doesn’t apply to passports and driving licences. In fact, you’ll need that old passport when you apply for a new one, so do not under any circumstances shred it. When you send off your old passport, the UK Passport Office will issue a new one, then send the old one back to you (usually with a corner cut off to mark it as cancelled). It’s a good idea to hang onto this cancelled passport for your records, but if you decide you don’t want it, you can send it back to the UK Passport Office to be destroyed.
The process is similar for old driving licences. Although you don’t need to send off your driving licence to get a new one, you will need it when you apply. Once you get your new licence, you’ll need to send your old one off to the DVLA to be securely disposed of.
5. Boarding passes and travel itineraries
Like bank statements, a lot of travel documentation – such as boarding passes and travel itineraries – is now provided in a digital format. However, if you do have any physical documents, make sure to add them to your shredding pile.
Aside from your name, these documents will include details about your flight and trip, which a thief could use to prove their identity when posing as you. If itineraries are disposed of before or during the trip, they could also signal to burglars the dates that you’re away. Either way, it’s always best to shred them.
6. Cancelled cheques
Although cheques can feel to some people like a relic of a bygone era, they’re still a valid form of payment in the UK, and many people still use them to issue payment. As well as your name and address, cheques contain important bank details, such as your account number and sort code. So, if you do have any old or cancelled cheques lying around, make sure they’re shredded before you get rid of them.
How we can help you with shredding
Shredding documents is incredibly important for your safety and security – but it can also be incredibly time-consuming. That’s why Shredall SDS Group offers a wide range of secure, flexible shredding services – from one-off shredding to secure-data destruction. And with full GDPR compliance, you know your data is in safe hands.
Whether you’re a business, sole trader or you’re just having a big clearout, we’ve got a shredding service to suit. Get in touch today to find out how we can help.