So, you’re in shredding mood right? There’s a stack of papers you’ve set aside to be shredded and today’s the day! Old bank statements, junk mail with personal details on, bills you no longer need, they’re all for the shredder. But maybe there are other documents you should consider shredding too – and maybe there are some things you shouldn’t!
To help you decide, here’s our guide to what to shred and what not to shred:
Old Bank Statements
There is often a lot of confusion when it comes to how long you should keep personal bank statements for. You might have heard that you should keep them for six years before destroying them – but that really only applies to those who are self-employed and need to keep their statements to show income and expenditure for business purposes (n.b. if this does apply to you, make sure you hold on to statements for six full financial years). Having said that it is wise to hang on to bank statements for at least a year or so as they can provide proof of income for things like mortgage or loan applications. In addition, if you are in dispute with your bank (e.g. in the case of recent PPI claims) it is much easier if you have your own copies of statements – so you may want to at least digitise them before shredding. As some people have found out, it can sometimes be tricky to get hold of statements from your bank that are more than a few years old and you may even have to pay a fee to access these. Also the bank may not hold them indefinitely so really old statements may be impossible (or at least extremely difficult) to retrieve.
You might want to hang on to utility and other bills for a year or so in case of any dispute with your providers. They are also handy to show as proof of current address.
Again, payslips may be needed to show evidence of income for mortgage or loan purposes. Although typically you will only be asked to produce the last three month’s pay slips, it may be wise to hang on to them for at least a year or so.
You might want to regularly shred receipts for small everyday items, especially if you used a card to pay for them and so have a record on your bank statement. However, you should definitely hang on to receipts for items such as electronic equipment, white goods or anything where you might need to show the receipt as proof of purchase – or to support your warranty/guarantee.
Many shredders now have the capability to shred credit cards – so you should use it! As soon as you’ve activated your new card, it’s time to say goodbye to the old one!
Many people hang on to old expired passports because they have sentimental value – such as stamps from the holiday destinations you’ve been to. Also sometimes you may have a visa attached to the passport which is still valid. The key thing with an expired passport is to make sure that it cannot be used by anyone else – and common practice in the UK is to cut the corner off of it to indicate that it is no longer in use. So, if you’re going to keep it for the memories you might also consider giving it the snip.
Apart from nostalgia there’s really no need to keep old IDs – so you can test out your shredder’s credit card slot with these too!
Junk mail from the likes of credit card companies is definitely something to consider shredding, especially as these days they often come pre-filled with your personal information. Finding out you’ve got a new credit card that you didn’t even know about is no fun!
So, in summary you should consider shredding anything with personal information such as address, telephone number, account numbers, passwords, PINs, date of birth, National Insurance number, signature or email. But you should only do so when they are well outside the period when you might need to produce them – or you are able to get copies easily if required.
So, what will you be shredding today? And what will you be hanging on to?