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Common Cents departments
Mar/Apr 2014 Issue

Spring cleaning: what to shred

Spring cleaning can be both liberating and daunting. It is freeing to rid yourself of clutter and create more space, but how do you know what to get rid of?

If your decluttering routine includes addressing old financial files and receipts, understand that financial forms are a feast for an identity thief. Because many instances of identity theft happen when personal documents are compromised, it’s important to properly dispose of documents you no longer need.

Proper disposal involves making sure that personally identifying information, including your name, Social Security number, birthdate, account numbers, and passwords are unrecognizable when they leave your possession. The best way to do this is to use a shredder to thoroughly destroy documents.

In determining what to shred and what to keep, these options are a good start.

  • For immediate disposal – after you pay, of course: utility bills, phone bills, credit card statements (unless you need them for tax purposes)
  • Keep for 12 months: pay stubs, bank statements, medical records (keep these longer if you’re working through reimbursement or insurance)
  • Keep for six years: tax records, real estate transaction records, documents related to home improvements
  • For the archives: insurance records, IRA contribution documents (until you withdraw the money), warranty documents

Safe shredding and purging on an annual basis will help to reduce the clutter around you, and plays an important role in protecting your identity. It’s also a great time to check your credit report to ensure you haven’t already compromised your personal information.

For those looking to increase a sense of security, ProtectMyID® is available to AAA members with enrollment and includes email alerts when key changes are detected on your credit report, among other features. Visit AAA.com/identitymonitoring for more details or call (877) 440-6943.

This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions. Published by permission from ConsumerInfo.com, Inc.
© 2013 ConsumerInfo.com, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Get your vehicle ready for spring

Like your home, your vehicle needs attention to prepare for warmer weather. Check fuel pumps and lines, headlights, oil, water, coolants, the vehicle’s battery, and tires.

Remember that AAA members are entitled to a free maintenance inspection at AAA-Approved Auto Repair shops. You’ll get a written recommendation for maintenance or repairs.

To find an AAR facility near you, go to AAA.com/repairs.

AAR

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