NAPERVILLE, Ill. (6/4/09)--Due to a successful effort in 2008, Illinois credit unions statewide joined to declare June as “Shred Month” to help consumers protect themselves from identity theft and shred unwanted documents for free, said the Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL). On a credit union Shred Day, the community is invited to bring its unwanted personal documents, such as tax paperwork, old account statements, cancelled checks, credit card and ATM receipts, unwanted credit card offers to be shredded by the shredding truck in the participating credit union’s parking lot. “Every three seconds, someone becomes a victim of identity theft. Education and properly disposing of personal documents are among the best ways to deter thieves,” said Dan Plauda, IUCL president/CEO. “We invite the community to visit its local credit unions participating in Shred Days and bring their documents to protect themselves from identity theft.” Credit unions of Illinois are offering consumers guidelines about what documents to keep and for how long:
* Credit card receipts and statements--Keep receipts until a monthly statement arrives; if that’s correct, shred the receipts. Exceptions: Keep a receipt if disputing a bill or to cover a warranty or return period. Keep the statements for seven years if they contain tax-related expenses. * Pay check stubs--Make sure the information on paycheck stubs matches an annual W-2 when it is received, then shred the stubs. If an employer lists vacation/sick leave carryover on a paycheck stub, keep the last one of the year. Notify an employer if the information doesn’t match. * Credit union records--At the end of each year, go through share draft carbons or statements and keep only those related to taxes, business expenses, and housing or mortgage payments. * Tax records--The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has three years to audit a return, and consumers have three years to file an amended return to claim a refund if they make a mistake. If a mistake is made of underreporting gross income by 25% or more on a return, the IRS has six years to challenge it. If a fraudulent return is filed or if one isn’t filed at all, the IRS can catch filers on it at any time. Keep a copy of all 1040 tax forms permanently. * Miscellaneous--Keep these permanently: Updated household inventory, birth and death certificates, marriage license, divorce papers, military records, insurance claims, accident reports and claims, proof of ownership and major debt repayment, individual retirement account contribution records and legal correspondence.