Clearing the Clutter: When is it Safe to Dispose of Old Paperwork?

Feeling overwhelmed with paperwork and documentation? Adirondack Regional FCU offers helpful guidelines and Document Shred Events to help!


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From credit card bills to tax documents, the accumulation of paper can clutter our homes and offices, leading to a desire to declutter responsibly. Here are some general guidelines to help you navigate the maze of paperwork disposal:

Guidelines on Keeping Important Paperwork

Tax Records: One of the most common types of paperwork people accumulate is tax-related documents. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), it's wise to keep most tax records, such as receipts, 1099s, W-2s, and the tax return itself, for a period of seven years after filing. While the IRS typically conducts audits within three years, they have the authority to extend this period up to seven years in certain circumstances. Holding onto these records for the recommended time frame provides a safety net in case of audits or inquiries.

Credit Card and Utility Bills: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends shredding credit card and utility bills immediately after payment, as long as they are not related to tax purposes. This precaution helps safeguard sensitive financial information from falling into the wrong hands and reduces the risk of identity theft or fraud. 

Bank Statements, Pay Stubs, and Medical Bills: Other common types of paperwork include bank statements, pay stubs, and medical bills. The general rule of thumb for these documents is to shred them after a year, unless there is an ongoing dispute or legal matter related to any of them. By holding onto these documents for a year, you have ample time to review them for discrepancies or errors and address any issues that may arise. Once the one-year mark has passed, shredding these documents can help free up space and reduce clutter without compromising your personal information.

Knowing when it's safe to dispose of old paperwork can help you maintain a clutter-free environment while safeguarding your sensitive information. To help, Adirondack Regional FCU offers free "Document Shred Events" at our local branches throughout the year. Participants are welcome to bring up to 4 Bankers Box-size cartons of material to be destroyed. Watch for upcoming dates. 

At Adirondack Regional Federal Credit Union, we’re as invested in helping you avoid fraud as you are. Consider these other ways you can prevent identity theft and fraud.