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Financial Friday: Shred Personal Information

Dorm rooms can get cluttered, but in this age of identity theft, you have to be vigilant about throwing out paperwork. If paperwork is sensitive, it should be shredded.

Betty Thorne, Ph.D.

Stetson can help you stay safe – you can shred up to a bag full of documents (and it’s a big bag) at the Print Shop by calling ahead at 386.822.8160.

Some of the things that you should consider shredding include: pay stubs, undisputed medical bills, bank statements that are older than a year, sales receipts (unless there’s a warranty or income tax deduction), and bills where you can retrieve a copy online as soon as they’ve been paid.

Valrie Chambers, Ph.D., Stetson University professor

Valrie Chambers, Ph.D.

The Federal Trade Commission recommends you shred immediately your paid credit card statements, paid utility bills, ATM receipts and credit offers. After a year, you can shred pay stubs, bank statements and undisputed medical bills. After seven years, shred W-2s, and tax-related receipts.

But keep forever documents related to major life events like birth, immigration, marriage, divorce, death and titles to homes and cars, and store them in a safe, locked place. Keep your tax returns.

“For those who are thinking, maybe I should keep everything, just in case. . . remember that identity thieves can’t find documents you have destroyed,” the Federal Trade Commission says in “A pack rat’s guide to shredding.”

The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer website has more information.

Valrie Chambers, Ph.D., professor of accounting, and Betty Thorne, Ph.D., professor of statistics and the Christian R. Lindback Chair of Business Administration, write Financial Fridays to bolster students’ financial wellness including preventing financial mistakes, safeguarding their assets and identity, and thinking critically about financial decisions.