April showers bring May flowers, right? Well…we’ve seen plenty of rain already this month. When I think of spring, I also think of spring-cleaning. A time of year to purge all the “unused stuff” our family accumulates. It’s rummage sale and Goodwill season at the Olson house right now.
What also reigns supreme this time of year is purging old and unused documents containing personal information. Shredding documents is the simplest act you can take to prevent identity theft and the financial harm it causes.
That’s why twice a year Winnebago Community Credit Union hosts Shred Week. April 17-22 you have a FREE opportunity to securely destroy materials containing your personal information. Here are guidelines you can use to help you determine what to shred:
• Credit card receipts and statements: Keep receipts until your monthly statement arrives; if that's correct, shred the receipts. Exceptions: Keep a receipt if you're disputing a bill or to cover a warranty or return period. Keep the statements for seven years if they contain tax-related expenses.
• Pay check stubs: Make sure the information on your paycheck stubs matches your annual W-2 when you receive it, then shred the stubs. If your employer lists vacation/sick leave carryover on your paycheck stub, keep the last one of the year. Notify your employer if the information doesn't match.
• Credit union records: At the end of each year, go through your share draft carbons or statements and only keep those related to taxes, business expenses, and housing or mortgage payments.
• Tax records: The IRS has three years to audit your return, and you have three years to file an amended return to claim a refund if you made a mistake. If you made a mistake of under-reporting your gross income by 25% or more on a return, the IRS has six years to challenge it. If you filed a fraudulent return or didn't file one at all, the IRS can catch you on it at any time. Keep a copy of all 1040 tax forms permanently.
Miscellaneous: Keep these items permanently: Updated household inventory, birth and death certificates, marriage license, divorce papers, military records, insurance claims, accident reports and claims, proof of ownership and major debt repayment, IRA contribution records, and legal correspondence.