How to Safely Dispose of Important Documents and Protect Your Personal Information

It is critical to understand how to properly dispose of important documents to safeguard yourself against identity theft and fraud. According to the Bureau of Justice, 11.7 million people over the age of 16, were victims of identity theft from 2006 to 2008. Compass Retirement Solutions values the privacy and information of everyone and developed a how-to guide to help protect you from becoming a victim.


Shredding physical documents is an effective way to keep others from obtaining your personal information. Simply throwing away bills, letters, notices, or anything else with your private details on it is not enough to protect yourself. Identity thieves have been known to “dumpster dive,” or collect documents from waste cans and recycling bins to gather your information. The more destruction you can cause your important documents, the better.

Documents to Keep vs. Shred

Some information should never be thrown away. Below, you will find a list of which documents you should always keep physical and digital record of:


  • Birth Certificates
  • Death Certificates
  • Social Security Cards
  • ID Cards and Passports
  • Pension Plan Documents
  • Insurance Policy
  • Bank Statements (keep for a year)
  • Home/Residential Documents (keep for at least six years selling)
  • Wills and Powers of Attorney
  • Car Titles and Loans
  • Marriage and Divorce Documents
  • Business Licenses
  • House Deeds
  • Mortgage Documents
  • Tax Records (keep for seven years)
  • Pay Stubs (keep for a year)
  • Medical Records/Bills (keep at least a year after payment)

Keeping physical copies of anything regarding state or federal matters is never a bad idea. It is usually difficult to get them replaced and you frequently need to have access to these documents.


Shred anything that has your name, phone number, social security number, address or bank information on it. This might include the following:

  • ATM Receipts
  • Credit Cards and Credit Card Receipts
  • Utility Bills (after three months)
  • Expired Travel Documents like Visas and Passports

Digital vs. Physical Files

Always make sure that you store physical copies of your documents in a safe, preferably fire and water resistant space. Digital copies should be encrypted with a password that only you and trusted sources know.

Shred Event at Compass Retirement Solutions

If you are interested in shredding some of your documents, Compass Retirement Solutions is hosting an event at 10326 Old Olive Street Road in Creve Coeur, MO 63041 on April 29 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Actual shredding can be witnessed on site starting at 1:30 p.m. Come out with your family and friends to protect your identity, enjoy food, drink and music!

If you would like to book an appointment to speak with Marvin Mitchell, CEO of Compass Retirement Solutions, please call 314-373-1598 or email