published Friday, April 20th, 2012

BizBulletin: Shred old papers to protect identity

Jim Winsett

IF YOU GO


Bring documents for shredding to Lee Corners at Lee Highway and Highway 153 from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.

Q: Is BBB conducting its annual spring "Shred Day" event this year?

A: Yes, in honor of National Financial Literacy Month, Better Business Bureau will hold a nationwide "Secure Your ID" Day on Saturday. Individuals and small businesses are encouraged to stop at one of the dozens of locations across North America set up by BBB for free document shredding. BBB staff will be on site to provide expert advice and tips on identity theft, investment fraud and other financial topics.

When looking through your documents to be shredded, BBB recommends considering a few tips before deciding what goes and what stays.

Whether you're a pack rat or a skimpy saver, it is easy to confuse what should be saved versus what should be shredded when parsing through personal documents. With April 17th and last-minute tax filing just passed, now is the perfect time to get your personal documents in order.

Each person's tax situation is different and can vary in complexity of records. Saving the appropriate documents should be based on the IRS Code, meaning that all documents should be saved based on the period of limitation of the return.

For example, a document for a settled accident report or claim and expired contracts for mortgages and notes should be kept for seven years. While property appraisals by outside appraisers should be kept permanently.

Identity theft touched the lives of more than 9.1 million adult victims in 2011. According to a report from Javelin Strategy and Research, that theft resulted in the loss of $37 billion. BBB is advising consumers and small businesses alike to know which personal documents should be shredded and which documents should be kept.

Taking the time to shred the documents you do not need and saving the documents you do can make a difference when it comes to securing your identity. It only takes one personal document to give a thief everything needed to steal your identity.

Get answers to your questions each Friday from Jim Winsett, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Inc., which serves Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia. Submit questions to his attention by writing to Business Editor Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press, P.O. Box 1447, Chattanooga, TN, 37401-1447, or by emailing him at dflessner@ timesfree press.com.

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