What to shred: 8 documents you should be shredding that you probably aren't

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Everyone knows it’s smart to shred their most sensitive pieces of information. But what other documents should be shredded? Here are several often-overlooked documents that should be securely destroyed.

December 18, 20237 mins
what To Shred: 8 Documents You Should Be Shredding That You Probably Aren't | Iron mountain

We all know it’s important to shred our most sensitive pieces of information—credit card statements or applications, tax-related documents, identity cards, etc. Knowing what to shred is key to keeping your identity protected, your finances secure, and your family safe.

Still, there are several often-overlooked items that could put you at risk if they aren’t also securely destroyed. If you forget to shred these documents, you’re not alone. But with the number of identity thefts and data breaches on the rise, it’s important to stay on top of your shredding habits.

Here are some documents that you should be shredding and why it’s important:

1. Junk mail

Junk mail comes in every day. Unfortunately, with so many data sources available to companies, your personal data may be included in those garbage mailers and credit card offers. Don’t toss the junk mail in the trash bin; shred it. Given merely your name, address, and a credit offer, someone could take out a line of credit in your name and spend money, leaving you on the hook. Junk mail should be shredded or, in the United States, you can opt out of junk mail and pre-screened credit offers through the Federal Trade Commission’s unsolicited mail page.

2. Medical prescription labels

Prescription labels contain private information, including your name, contact information, and doctor’s name. If not disposed of carefully, someone could use the information fraudulently to refill your prescriptions or get access to your healthcare information and medical background. So shred the paper documentation that comes with your prescriptions, and soak the empty bottles in water to remove the labels. Many pharmacies and recycling centers will accept used bottles.

3. Photos and old IDs

If you’re going through a box of old pictures, don’t just toss out the duplicates—shred them. Thieves can use your old pictures or IDs maliciously to fake their identity. When deciding what to shred, make sure your old pictures and identification are on the list.

The cost of identity theft is increasing as criminals get their hands on increasingly sensitive data. According to estimations by financial analysts, fraudulent transactions may reach $40.62 billion in 2027 and $49 billion by 2030.



4. Travel itineraries

Heading out for a vacation? Traveling on business? Don’t forget to shred your travel itineraries. When thieves are looking for ways to bill you out of money, they can use your travel itineraries to rebook flights and hotels or gain access to your accounts. Think about how someone could verify where you’ve been and when to “prove” identity. Best to be safe and securely shred your travel itineraries.

Boarding passes also contain more sensitive information than you likely realize. Those QR codes that are on your boarding passes may contain your personally identifiable information. While the airlines need to know who’s on the plane, identity thieves can leverage that data.

5. Shipping labels

That box that came with your new shoes? If it has a plastic pouch with an insert, like a receipt, an order form, or a confirmation, it likely has personally identifiable information. Double-check your boxes before you recycle or reuse them, pull out any shipping labels, inserts, or return labels, and make sure those get shredded too.

6. Memos and notes

What computer area doesn’t have a little pad of sticky notes next to it? Those handwritten notes are incredibly convenient, super easy to use, and likely contain personal information that you don’t want identity thieves to get their hands on. What was written when the doctor called? What was jotted down during that client call? Did you scribble any passwords while on a call with IT? To be safe, include those used notes on your shred list.

7. Resumes and CVs

Whether it’s your own resume or resumes submitted via employees or prospective candidates, it’s important to shred the paper copies. Because resumes often contain personal information, like telephone numbers, email and home addresses, and job or education history, identity theft is a potential risk. And for legal purposes, securely disposing of sensitive employee information is a requirement.

8. Bank statements and canceled checks

Even if they’re old statements, they should be shredded. Your name, address, phone number, and bank account information are in those statements, along with your habits, purchases, and banking history. Even if the account is closed, shred it anyway.

While many banks have moved to digital formats for canceled checks, if you have physical copies or reprints from your bank, shred them. They contain a lot of personally identifiable information that could put you at risk. Stop those canceled checks from posing a risk by having them shredded.

When in doubt, have it shredded

There are countless sources of personally identifiable information around the home and office. If there’s ever a doubt, have it professionally shredded. The financial and reputational risk of having an identity stolen is too great to not put in the little bit of extra effort it takes to shred a document. And the peace of mind is priceless.

Iron Mountain provides a range of shredding solutions tailored to suit a wide range of budgets. Our shredding pricing is determined based on your preference, whether by the standard file box or by the bin. For bulk one-time shredding services, prices begin at just $99, and you have the flexibility to opt for either offsite or onsite shredding. If you’re unsure about the number of boxes you need to shred, there’s no need to worry. You can opt for our convenient bin rental service known as Flex Bin Shred, which is especially convenient for workplaces with scattered paper sources. For recurring shredding services, the pricing depends on the number of bins or consoles you require and the frequency of pickups.

While it’s essential to take into account the cost of document shredding when assessing various service providers, the primary focus should be on selecting an organization dedicated to ensuring security.

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