What Should You Shred?

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There are many documents which individuals deal with on a regular basis like Bank Statements, Utility Bills, Junk Mail, Pre-Approved Application, Mortgage Details, Personal Letters etc. which should either be kept in a secure place, or if not required anymore disposed of correctly.

Ask yourself this simple question:

"Would you like your next door neighbour or any complete stranger to read this information?"

If the answer is no then it would be a good idea to shred it!

You should always shred any unwanted information that is sent to you that contains your name, address or any other personal details. We would also recommend shredding credit card slips, bills, receipts etc although only when you no longer need them. It may also be a good idea to shred sensitive information when clearing out files or cupboards, if you are moving house or following a bereavement. It may be the last thing on your mind but ID fraudsters will often try to assume the identity of someone who has passed away as there is less chance of the person realising their ID has been stolen!

However, you must always remember that under the self assessment tax system, all taxpayers are required to keep records of their income and capital gains for at least 22 months and may need to trace records for up to 6 years. It is also good practice to keep bank statements and household bills, etc for at least a year to help you compare expenditure over that period. If you are unsure whether something needs to be kept then always check with your tax advisor.

For Business Use

Just imagine if any of the following were to land on your biggest competitor's desk:

Sales Forecasts
Business Plans
Research and Development information
Customer Lists
Cost prices
Profit Margins
Order fulfilments rates
Staff Salaries
Competitor Analysis
Bank Statements
Launch plans
Draft Tender Information
Store openings and Security Guard patrol times
Could your Business be affected adversely if any of the above were to become public knowledge?

If the answer is yes then it would be a good idea to shred it!

For most businesses it may be necessary to shred excess paper and unwanted mail every day so as not to get a huge back log of shredding to do at once. It also reduces the risks of your cleaners selling your sensitive information to competitors. A daily shredding process is an especially good idea if you do not have a large office sized shredder as most personal shredders on the market will only shred continuously for between 5-20 minutes before needing approximately half an hour to cool down. We would also recommend shredding when clearing out files or cupboards, when moving offices or when clearing out a desk after a member of staff has left. It would also be a good idea to shred any extra photocopies of documents that you have made and any stored records that have exceeded the date that they need to be kept until.

However, always remember that by law, UK businesses are required to retain certain documents for a period of time. If you are unsure then contact your Company Accountant for more details.

Michael Knight launched shreddingmachines.co.uk in 2006 selling shredding machines to both business and personal users in the UK at low prices. They have organised all of the products into different categories such as Small Office shredders to make your choice even easier.

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