We know what you’re thinking. Surely everything can be shredded, right? And you’re absolutely right, but some documents shouldn’t be shredded before their time. Most business documents have a solid shelf life of approximately three to five years and there are also documents that relax to your income tax that you shouldn’t shred. In this post, we’ll help you understand what you can and can’t shred, while also covering a few different documents that you definitely should shred.
Why Do We Shred Documents?
Any documents that come from financial transactions could be used to steal another person’s identity, so these documents, in particular, should be the first on your list of documents that need to be shredded.
What Should Businesses Be Shredding?
Documents that contain any personal information can become a target for identity theft, which means that any paperwork that includes a person’s date of birth, national insurance number, or address, should also be gathered together to be shredded. Employee’s who have long left your business will have copies of these personal documents somewhere on-site at your business’ facilities. If they left over three years ago, you don’t need to keep their records anymore.
For companies that deal with accounts and financials, information held about your clients’ accounts is usually sensitive information. Account numbers, usernames, passwords, and even security answers; these are all pieces of information that client accounts carry. Old payroll information and payslips should also be shredded.
Documents You Shouldn’t Shred
Whether you’re a business or a professional, there are several types of documents that should never pass through your shredder. Most of these are income tax documents, such as tax returns and those many supporting documents.
Saving certain documents from your shredder will definitely help you in the long run. Here’s a shortlist of a few documents and pieces of paperwork that you should keep far away from anything that would cut them up:
- Employment records less than three years old. This includes any document with an employee’s name, address, or tax records on it. You should even keep any email correspondence from your employees, where possible.
- Any property records that relate to your business. Deeds of properties, titles for vehicles, and any documents that relate to assets for your business.
- Bank statements. This one isn’t too important if you do accidentally shred them because most statements are digital now, and statements for specific periods can be ordered and sent to you.
Things You Should Shred Right Now
- Junk mail. Junk mail, more often than not, contains your name and address. As tempting as it is to just throw it straight in the recycling bin, do shred it first.
- Old passports and other types of photo ID. Identity theft is made much easier with photo ID.
- Unneeded bank statements. As mentioned in the last section, paper bank statements serve little purpose other than risking your identity, your finances, and taking up space. If they aren’t needed, shred them.