Identity theft is a nationwide problem, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. The fact is anyone with a social security number is vulnerable to identity theft. The good news is there are things you can do to reduce your risk.

Shredding documents which contain personal and financial information is one of the best ways to protect your identity. But how do you know what to keep and what to shred? Krystle Brown with Navigator Credit Union is offering advice on when to shred and details on how long you should hold on to certain documents.

Save forever

Keep documents related to major life events – birth, marriage, divorce and death. Lock securely:

•Birth certificates or adoption papers

•Social Security Cards

•Citizenship papers or passports

•Marriage or divorce decrees

•Death certificates of family members

Also, keep auto titles and home deeds stored safety for as long as you own the property.

Tax records

Keep tax-related records for seven years. Should you be selected for an audit by the Internal Revenue Service, these records will be needed. And while tax related receipts, cancelled check and W-2s can be shredded after seven years, the FTC suggests keeping tax returns forever.

Other records

According to the FTC, you don’t have to wait seven years before shredding many other documents. After paying credit card or utility bills, shred them immediately. Also shred sales receipts, unless related to warranties, taxes or insurance. After one year, shred bank statements, pay stubs and medical bills (unless you have an unresolved insurance dispute or these documents should be kept as tax records).You should also shred voided checks and any online purchase orders containing your bank account or billing information right away.


Millions of pieces of mail are delivered every day and some of those could contain sensitive personal information. Here is a list of items to shred:

•Documents containing personal and real estate taxes

•Mail containing information about utility accounts, cell phone and internet bills

•Pre-authorized or pre-approved credit card offers

•Mail from insurance companies and lenders

•Child and school related mail

Free Community Shred Day

Navigator is committed to protecting your privacy. In keeping with our promise, we’re partnering with Fox10 for a free Shred Day Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. It will be held at 1501 Satchel Paige Drive in Mobile from 8 a.m. until the trucks are full. Residents may bring up to three bags or boxes of documents to be shredded. It is on a first-come, first serve basis. The free Shred Day is not open to businesses.

About Navigator Credit Union

Navigator has been serving the Gulf Coast for 80 years. In 1939, the credit union began offering savings accounts and loans to local shipyard workers who, until then, did not have access to financial services. Today, anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Mobile or Baldwin Counties can join. Navigator is a full-service financial institution offering innovative services such Save’N Up Debit card savings program and Credit Builder Loans, as well as interest-bearing checking accounts, high-yield savings plans, unlimited rewards credit cards, mortgage services, competitive vehicle loans, retirement planning and more. Visit or call 800-344-3281 for additional information.

All content © 2019, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved. 

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