Keeping documents and receipts from getting into the hands of criminals is important in preventing identity theft. Credit card fraud can occur when a criminal obtains enough personal information about someone to fill out a credit card application in the victim’s name. Shredding receipts that are not required to support taxation records, especially those that contain your name, address or account numbers, is a good way to keep your identity safe.
Receipts from an ATM machine show the name of the bank, the last four digits of the account number, the amount of the transaction and available balance. In the wrong hands, this information could be combined with other personal information and used to create fraudulent accounts. ATM receipts should be kept as a reminder of the amount withdrawn or deposited until they can be matched with the bank statement. After that, shred them. A cross-cut shredder is better than a single-cut shredder, which cuts a document into long strips instead of smaller pieces.
Purchase receipts are required if an item is unsuitable or defective and has to be returned to the store for a refund. Receipts also may be required to validate a product warranty. The refund policy often is printed on the receipt, stating the time period within which a product may be returned. Where a receipt is not required for warranty purposes, it may be destroyed after the return period has expired and after the amount has been checked against a credit card or bank statement.
Garage services and domestic appliance purchase receipts will be needed to claim against a warranty if problems occur. Once an old appliance has been disposed of, discard the receipts. Service and repairs receipts should be retained and filed in a cabinet or cupboard If a vehicle is sold, any service receipts should be passed on to the new owner.
Keep credit card receipts until any warranty or return period has expired. Credit card receipts for items that won't be returned, such as restaurant meals, should be kept until checked against the credit card statement, then shredded.
Payment receipts from the IRS contain sensitive personal information that criminals would find very attractive. Check with your accountant if there is any need to retain these documents. Most documents that form part of tax records should be kept for seven years. Always file away receipts and documents containing personal information; never leave them out on a desk where they can be seen.
Lin Parker has been writing articles and Web site content since 2005. Lin researches and writes articles on pets, beauty, the Internet and online businesses, and writes content for the UK sites Face Lift Advice and Bramcote Dog Walkers. She was educated at Clifton Hall, Nottingham, UK, has an Associate Degree in taxation, and a diploma in canine psychology.