A Senior’s Guide to the Do’s and Don’ts of Document Shredding

A stressed senior gentleman looks up from between two tall stacks of document-filled binders.As we reflect on what we learned from National Senior Fraud Awareness Day on May 15, it’s essential to acknowledge that skepticism towards fraud isn’t just common—it’s necessary. Just ask 93-year-old Clarence B. Jones, who recently received a call claiming President Biden wanted to honor him with the Medal of Freedom. Despite his initial disbelief, the call turned out to be genuine. It’s a reminder that in today’s digital age, staying vigilant against potential threats is crucial, including safeguarding your paper documents. Here’s a handy guide to help you protect yourself from those who seek to exploit your private information.

Don’t: Hoard Outdated Documents

It’s tempting to hold onto old paperwork for sentimental reasons or out of a vague notion that you might need it someday. However, clinging to outdated documents puts you at risk of identity theft and financial harm. When in doubt, it’s best to dispose of them promptly.

Do: Discard Outdated Documents

Unsure of when to let go of certain documents? Here’s a simple guideline:

  • Immediately: Destroy invoices, statements, credit card offers, and other non-essential mail once you’ve paid your bills. Also, remove and destroy prescription labels after finishing medication.
  • Within One Year: Shred paid bills, bank statements, and pay stubs.
  • After Seven Years: Safely dispose of tax records and related documents, as well as receipts and stubs.
  • Other: Some records should never be destroyed, but expired documents like passports and old insurance policies can be safely discarded. 

Don’t: Toss Documents into the Trash or Recycle Bin

Your trash and recycling bins are prime targets for thieves seeking confidential information. Simply tearing up documents by hand won’t deter them.

Do: Shred Your Papers

Ensure your documents are shredded into tiny, unreconstructible pieces. Don’t overlook items like boarding passes, magazine labels, or prescription labels—they all contain personally-identifiable information (PII). 

Don’t: Use an Office Shredder

Office shredders may not shred documents small enough to prevent reconstruction, leaving your information vulnerable.

Do: Shred with a Reputable Shredding Company

Partnering with a professional shredding company offers peace of mind. Look for companies that offer collection containers to store your documents in until they are securely destroyed.

Don’t: Assume Privacy Protection

Not all shredding services are created equal. Some may not adequately shred your documents, leaving you exposed to potential risks.

Do: Partner with a NAID AAA Certified Provider

NAID AAA Certified companies guarantee secure document destruction. By choosing a certified provider like Richards & Richards, you can trust that your information is in safe hands.

With these dos and don’ts in mind, you can confidently navigate the world of document shredding and protect yourself from potential threats. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and stay safe.

At Richards & Richards, we offer residential shredding services tailored to your needs. Whether it’s a one-time service or scheduled shredding, we ensure the utmost security for your documents. In honor of Senior Fraud Awareness Day, reach out to us at 615-242-9600 or complete the form on this page to learn more.


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