Sort It, Then Shred It

How do you store your personal records? Is your home office a model of military precision, with every document in its precisely labeled place? Or do your files look like the proverbial tornado hit them?

No matter which storage model you’ve adopted, sooner or later you’re going to need to wade through all those papers and decide what must stay and what can go. How long should you keep those credit card statements? How about the tax returns? And what about those mortgage papers? Plus, once you have picked out what to get rid of, how do you do it safely to protect your personal information?

That last question is easy to answer.

Join us Saturday, October 19, from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm, for our document shredding day at our Latham branch located at 1187 Troy Schenectady Road. This is a great opportunity to safely destroy any personal information at no cost to you.

The Colonie Police Department will also join us to provide Halloween safety tips for children.

The Albany County Sheriff will also join us with Operation Safe Child.  Operation Safe Child was created by the governor’s office to raise awareness about child safety.  Using digital fingerprint technology and high-resolution photography, officers produce a FREE Safe Child identification card.  Each card contains the child’s name, photograph, fingerprint images and biographical information (gender, height, weight, hair color, eye color and specific identifying characteristics).

To decide what exactly to dispose of, here are some suggestions on how long to keep various types of records. Keep in mind these are general guidelines. Your personal circumstances may require you to keep particular records on hand longer.

Here’s the “forever” list. Keep these no matter what, and consider getting a fire resistant or waterproof box to keep them in:

Marriage Licenses

Birth Certificates

Wills

Adoption Papers

Death Certificates

Records of Paid Mortgages

Hold onto these next items while they’re still active or you still own the property involved:

Contracts

Insurance documents

Stock certificates

Property records

Stock records

Records of pensions and retirement plans

Property tax records

Disputed bills (Keep the bill until the dispute is resolved)

Home improvement records (Hold for at least 3 years after the due date for the tax return that includes the income or loss on the asset when it's sold)

Receipts for large purchases. You never know when you may need to have these for an insurance claim for your car, furniture, jewelry, or other big-ticket items.

Miscellaneous records that establish your credibility and reliability, including proof of past employment, references from previous landlords, etc.

Keep records of satisfied loans for seven years to prove they are paid off.

Federal and state income tax returns are particularly important and should be kept for at least three years. If you have complicated tax returns, then keep them for six years in case of an audit.

You should also keep these other documents on hand for three (and possibly six) years because they are often used to support your tax return information in case of an audit:

Medical bills

Cancelled insurance policies

Home sales records (Documentation for capital gains tax)

Stock sales records (Also documentation for capital gains tax)

Receipts, cancelled checks, and other documents that support income or a deduction on your tax return. (Keep them 3 years from the date the return was filed or 2 years from the date the tax was paid -- whichever is later)

Annual investment statement (Keep for three years after you sell your investment.)

You only need to keep these items for one year in most cases:

Paycheck stubs (Get rid of these once you’ve compared them to your W2 and annual social security statement)

Utility bills (No need to keep these longer unless you’re using them to support a tax deduction for a home office. Then keep them for three years in case of an audit.)

Cancelled checks, credit card receipts, and bank statements, unless you need them for tax purposes. Then keep them for three years.

Quarterly investment statements (Hold on to them until you get your annual statement.)

Finally, there’s no need to keep ATM receipts for more than a month or until you have checked them against your monthly statement.

Keep in mind that at Sunmark our shred services aren’t just available on Shred Day! Any member can drop off personal materials for safe, secure shredding disposal at any Sunmark branch during business hours. Just see a teller who will show you how.

At Sunmark we recognize that your privacy is important and want to help keep your information that way—private!