Shred the risk of identity theft

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Free Press

Emprise Bank in Hillsboro wants to give residents and businesses a chance to protect their finances and clean out closets at the same time by offering them a chance to have old records destroyed safely and efficiently.

The bank plans to have an industrial-sized shredding truck from Stutzman’s Refuse Disposal in South Hutchinson on hand from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday .

Bank officials are inviting individuals and businesses to use it to their hearts’ content.

“It’s kind of prompted by identity theft,” assistant cashier Dorothy Deckert said about the event.

“We especially were thinking how we could protect our elderly citizens,” she added. “They may not have the means to go out and buy a shredder. We just thought we might as well try something like this and see if they go for it.”

Identify theft occurs when someone acquires another person’s financial information to make purchases for themselves.

“You don’t want to just throw your bank records away,” Deckert said. “The best thing is to dispose of them properly so no one can obtain account information, account numbers, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and those kinds of things.”

Identity thieves are becoming more sophisticated in their craft, Deckert said. The average citizen may not be aware how easily they can be victimized.

“We get credit card applications in the mail with our name and other pertinent information on it,” Deckert said. “It’s probably not a good idea to put that in your trash can because somebody could take it out of your trash, fill it out and send it in, change the address and they could have credit in your name.”

So, which records and documents should be kept and which can be destroyed? K-State Research and Extension offers the following guidelines:

n Keep permanently: birth, marriage and death certificates; divorce papers; military papers; titles to property you own; passports; wills and other estate-planning documents.

n Keep for three years: all canceled checks and bank statements; receipts and records that back up information included on a tax return should be kept at least three years after the due date of the return.

n Keep for up to seven years: contracts (up to seven years after expiration); mortgage and loan payments (keep for three years after the loan is paid off); insurance policies (keep for four years after policy expiration).

n Keep indefinitely:

(1) Records of transactions relating to property for as long as they are important in figuring the basis of the original or replacement property.

(2) Proof of nondeductible contributions to a tax-advantaged retirement saving account, which you will need whenever you withdraw money from the account to avoid paying taxes on the same money a second time.

(3) Cancelled checks, receipts and other papers documenting repairs and improvements made to property you own. You need to establish your cost basis for calculating capital gains when you sell the property.

Deckert said Emprise wants to make the service an enjoyable event as well as a helpful one. Refreshments will be available during the event.

“Weather permitting, we’ll have them outside,” she said. “If there’s inclement wether we’ll have people come inside.”

She said residents and businesses should box up their old records and bring them down.

“Just bring your boxes in front of the bank and the bank staff will assist in getting them through that process,” she said.

“It’s kind of fun,” she added. “We want to promote it not just to our customers, but to the whole community.

“I understand people store things in their basement for 30-some odd years. Maybe it’s time to clean it out.”

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