Ask Money

Old financial papers

Chris Farrell Oct 15, 2009

Question: After cleaning out a closet, I now have old bank statements and other financial information, even old checks that I didn’t use because of a change of address. It fills a trash bag, but is it safe to put it out in the trash? If not, what do I do with it? My little shredder would overheat if I tried to shred all of it. Claudia, Baltimore, MD

Answer: I definitely would not put any old financial information like that in the garbage. Odds are that your Social Security number is in the papers, as well as other valuable financial data that a dumpster-diving thief could use to steal your identity.

So, although it’s a pain and it means an extra trip I would take the paper to a professional paper shredding site. It’s safer, and the paper will get recycled to boot. (I know it’s a pain because I was just staring at an old computer and television that need to be recycled. I’ve been meaning to do it for some time, now. This weekend I’ll get it done.) Some neighborhoods hold paper shredding “events” where a truck with a shredder stops by. It’s another option if it is happening in your area.

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