Fortunately, while identity theft is not completely preventable, you can take steps to protect yourself. One way is to securely dispose of personal papers. So, this Saturday, the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois is hosting the 4th Annual Shredder Day dubbed "Shred It & Forget It!"
Shredder Day gives residents and small businesses an opportunity to dispose of their unwanted personal financial and confidential documents for free. Pack up your papers on Saturday, June 20 and bring them to the United Center LOT E (On Wood Street between Madison & Warren Blvd.) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. A total of 10 (ten) shredder trucks will be on hand to destroy all the sensitive materials. There's a limit of 10 boxes of documents
Last year, 550 cars stopped at the United Center; 65,000 pounds of paper were shredded.
The free shredding services are being provided by BBB accredited businesses, Beaver Shredding, Acme Document Destruction, Chicago Shred Authority and Cintas Document Management. They will also be giving away a free shredder every 15 minutes. You can also log on to www.chicagoshreds.com and sign up to win.
For this event, the BBB is working with the FTC, the Illinois Attorney General's Office, the United States Postal Inspectors Service, the Chicago Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, Cook County State's Attorney, The Chicago Police and the FBI.
Representatives from various law enforcement agencies will be on hand to offer guidelines for shredding documents, and answer questions about how to keep your personal information safe.
Here are some suggestions for deciding how long to keep personal financial information:
· The IRS has three years from your tax-filing date to audit, and has six years to challenge a claim. A good rule of thumb is to keep all tax returns and supporting documentation for seven years.
· Keep credit card statements for seven years if tax related expenses are documented.
· Keep paycheck stubs for one year. Be sure to cross reference the paycheck stub to the W-2 form.
· Be sure to keep bank statements and cancelled checks for at least one year.
· Bills should be kept for one year or until the cancelled check has been returned. Receipts for large ticket items should be kept for insurance purposes.
· Home improvement receipts should be kept for six years or permanently.
· Items such as birth certificates, social security cards, insurance policies, titles or wills should be kept permanently in a safety deposit box.
· If you are going to dispose of documents with sensitive information, be sure to shred them.