What Documents Should I Keep After Filing Taxes

February 18th, 2019

Now that tax season is in full swing you may be able to get rid of some of that paper that is taking up space in your filing cabinet. But, you don’t get to throw all of it out, not just yet. What you can throw out should be shredded by a professional company such as Highland Shredding.

Documents to Shred

Many of the documents that you are able to get rid of need to be securely shredded. Visit Highland Shredding’s website to learn more about shredding your documents and hard drives that contain sensitive information. Shred the following:

  • Duplicates of any receipts
  • Any records that are not related to credits and deductions
  • Medical receipts if you do not claim that receipt as a deduction if you do not need them for other purposes
  • Paycheck stubs
  • Old tax returns once the statute of limitations runs
  • W-2 and other forms that show income, once the statute of limitations runs
  • Annual social security statement
  • Any other tax-related records that the statute of limitations has run, as long as you don’t need them for other reasons

All of these records need to be shredded to prevent identity theft.

What Documents Should I Keep After Filing Taxes?

You’ll need to keep certain documents after filing your taxes. Different documents have different statute of limitations. If you don’t feel like looking everything up, seven years is a good number. Most statute of limitations run for less than seven years. However, you should keep certain documents longer, such as titles to vehicles, loan and mortgage documents and documents supporting tax deductions. Keep those as long as you own the asset.

Additional documents include:

  • Any documents related to income you earned, including but not limited to W-2 forms and 1099 forms
  • Bank statements
  • Brokerage statements
  • Any documents related to deductions, including but not limited to medical expenses, charitable gifts, child care expenses, alimony payments, credit card statements, mileage logs and canceled checks
  • Any documents related to your home, including but not limited to the deed, mortgage, note, closing statements and other documents
  • Any documents related to investments, including but not limited to mutual fund statements and brokerage statements

Keep all of these documents organized, preferably by year, and secured. If someone should break into your home, these documents should be difficult to access at best. If possible, scan the documents to a password-protected file, preferably in the cloud. Not only will those documents be protected from fire, water damage and thieves, but you’ll be able to access them from any device you want.

Seven Years

The IRS may attempt to collect monies from you or may start legal proceedings six years after you file should you omit more than 25 percent of your gross income when you file your taxes. To ensure that you are not caught without proof of your income, keep documentation for seven years past the last filing dates.

This means that you should have documents to shred every year. Tax information for taxes that were filed in 2011 for the 20010 tax year may be shredded in 2019.

Contact Highland Shredding

Contact Highland Shredding to learn more about our services or to make an appointment to shred your documents. If you have old hard drives, we are able to shred those, too. Since your hard drive is most likely not wiped, it should be shredded so that no one is able to get passwords and other sensitive information that may be on the drive.

The Benefits of Recurring Shredding Services

February 12th, 2019

If you have a business, you probably have documents that need to be professionally shredded.

Keeping your company’s confidential information safe not only protects your business and your customers, it prevents you from having to deal with costly, time-consuming, and reputation-damaging security breaches due to improperly disposed-of documents.

Discarding sensitive documents by throwing them away or recycling them intact offers no protection for sensitive information and exposes a company to financial and legal consequences if that information falls into the wrong hands. Even using a consumer paper shredder doesn’t offer complete document destruction.

To be completely safe, businesses should use a professional shredding company like Highland Shredding to securely destroy any unneeded documents. While Highland Shredding offers one-time purge shredding in cases when you need to dispose of a large number of documents, the more practical, affordable, and secure method for most businesses is our on-going shredding service.

When you use Highland Shredding’s regularly scheduled shredding services, you won’t have to go through the inconvenience of calling us every time your piles of paper threaten to overwhelm your storage space, and you won’t be exposing your sensitive documents to mishandling, loss, or theft by keeping them in unsecured containers in your office.

When you use our scheduled shredding service, we come to your office to assess your shredding needs based on the size of your office, number of staff members, and the volume of documents you will need to destroy. We then determine how many containers you need and place the appropriately sized secure shredding bins at easily accessible areas throughout your office.

Once the secure shredding consoles are in place, you can simply place any materials designated for shredding in the containers. Your staff will no longer have to waste time and hurt their productivity by removing staples, paperclips, or bindings—we’ll take care of all that when we come to your office to shred the materials in our high-tech mobile shredding trucks.

You’ll also never need to worry about the security of your documents. All our shredding bins are locked and have one-way feed slots so documents can’t be removed once they are placed inside.

When we arrive at your location, our Customer Service Professionals empty your consoles into a locked cart and transport it to the truck for shredding

Even though our Customer Service Professionals never directly handle your confidential documents, we still take the precaution of having all our staff members undergo a criminal background check, drug testing, and a thorough training program, and everyone is required to sign a Customer Confidentiality Agreement pledging to safeguard each customer’s sensitive materials.

Highland Shredding knows that keeping your confidential documents safe is crucial to your business, and our recurring shredding service is a solution you can trust.

Securing and Decluttering of Common Areas

February 4th, 2019

Did you know that leaving any workplace documents in an unsecured recycling bin can be a security threat? You might think a garbage or recycling bin is a safe way of disposing of information, but the reality is that most offices have common areas with these bins that pose potential threats for a data breach. For example, boardrooms, lunchrooms, and photocopy rooms can all have surprising risk points if they are not regularly decluttered. Who knew?

Let’s take a moment and think about your regular workday routine. Your day might start at your desk checking emails, followed by a mid-morning meeting in the boardroom. From there, you might go to the office cafeteria and grab a coffee, and then print off a few documents for your afternoon presentation. It is unlikely that you attend all of these meetings and common spaces empty handed. Yet, if you are like most employees, you might be more focused on when your next deliverable is due, or where your next meeting is located. Amidst this chaos, you probably leave a paper trail. For example, you might quickly toss a document in the boardroom garbage or you might forget to pick one up from a print tray.

To help you get started with decluttering your common areas and securing your documents we have identified a few popular common areas that contain surprising fraud risks – and a few helpful reminders to keep these areas clean and clutter-free.

1.) The lunchroom: Many offices contain an employee cafeteria or an eatery to warm up your lunch and socialize with your colleagues. Hopefully you can enjoy your down time without having to review any work-related documents, but most employees bring presentation material, meeting notes, and notebooks with them to these areas… and they can often be left behind for someone else to pick-up or dispose of. Instead, lock any unnecessary documents in your desk before any lunch breaks or other visits to the lunchroom so that confidential information isn’t picked up by someone it is not intended for.

2.) Boardrooms and Meeting spaces: Whether you have a client meeting or an internal meeting with other colleagues, you need to be mindful that no documents are tossed in recycling or garbage bins. Confidential information on these pages can severely impact your organization if these they get into the wrong hands. To help, staff training sessions should be held throughout the year that educate employees on proper security protocols. This training can help ensure that all employees take responsibility for any documents they handle and remind colleagues to properly discard of their own confidential documents as well.

3.) Printing rooms: Everyone can be guilty of printing documents and then forgetting to pick these up from the print tray. Just think of all the documents that are printed each day – employee information, CVs, contracts, business plans, and other documents can all pose a security threat if left for another employee to pick them up. To help, set reminders around these stations reminding employees to double check that nothing has been left behind after printing, and to dispose of unneeded documents into locked containers that should be located in the same vicinity. If possible, have IT set up password-protected printing, so employees must enter a password to release the document, minimizing paper waste and security risks.

To learn more about how Highland Shredding can help you with securely disposing of your personal and professional documents please contact us to discuss your needs and receive a free quote.

The dangers of used devices

March 29th, 2017

The following post is taken from an interesting article from our friends at NAID. Just a little something we thought would be worth sharing with everyone.

Personally Identifiable Information Found on 40 Percent of Used Devices in Largest Study To-Date

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
 
Phoenix, Ariz., March 24, 2017 – The National Association for Information Destruction® (NAID®) announced today the results of the largest study to date of the presence of personally identifiable information (PII) on electronic devices sold on the second hand market. The study showed that 40 percent of devices resold in publicly-available resale channels contained PII. NAID commissioned CPR Tools, Inc. to analyze the used devices, which included used hard drives, mobile phones and tablets.
 
The current state of electronic storage has made it possible for nearly every adult to carry a form of data storage device.  “As data storage is included in nearly every aspect of technology today, so is the likelihood of unauthorized or unintended access to that data” states CPR Tools CEO, John Benkert. He goes on to say, “Auction, resell, and recycling sites have created a convenient revenue stream in used devices; however, the real value is in the data that the public unintentionally leaves behind.”
 
While there have been similar studies over the past decade, the NAID study is unique insofar as the recovery process used to locate the data on more than 250 devices was, by design, not sophisticated nor was advanced forensic training required. All methods leveraged downloadable shareware. 
 
Robert Johnson, NAID CEO, points out that while this study’s results show a decrease in data found compared to past studies, “NAID employed only basic measures to extract data; imagine if we had asked our forensics agency to actually dig!” He goes on to surmise that “40 percent is horrifying when you consider the millions of devices that are recycled annually.”
 
PII recovered included credit card information, contact information, usernames and passwords, company and personal data, tax details, and more. While mobile phones had less recoverable PII at 13%, tablets were disturbingly found with the highest amount at 50%. PII was also found on 44% of hard drives. In total, 40% of the devices yielded PII. The study included devices that had been previously deployed in both commercial and personal environments.
 
Johnson cautions that the results are in no way an indictment of reputable commercial services providing secure data erasure. “We know by the ongoing audits we conduct of NAID Certified service providers that when overwriting is properly done, it is a trustworthy and effect process. The problem lies with service providers who are not qualified and, too often, with businesses and individuals who feel they can do it themselves.”

2017 Data Breach Forecast

February 24th, 2017

I was just reading an interesting report from Experian, the 2017 Data Breach Forecast. Remember that a data breach can happen to anyone, take the first steps to keeping you and your clients information safe, secure shredding and disposal of your documents and hard discs is a great start, and we’re here to help.

Be sure to read this report and work to keep yourself safe.

http://www.experian.com/assets/data-breach/white-papers/2017-experian-data-breach-industry-forecast.pdf

Another Data Breach…A reminder to SHRED!!!

January 16th, 2016

Check out this article. Here is another data breach in the news. Learn how to protect yourself and your business.

http://www.wcsh6.com/story/news/local/2016/01/15/investigation-concludes-additional-information-compromised-maine-general-hack/78848900/

Tewksbury students’ private information accidentally released

April 8th, 2015

Parents and families were in for a shock when they discovered that personal student information was accidentally released online. Although it did not list student’s names it did disclose ages and school placement for 83 special needs students who’s out of district placement is subsidized by the Tewksbury school district.
Many said it was easy to identify their child even though the names were not attached since they were listed alphabetically with age and current school name.
The list also included a ranking of the parents on a scale of 1-3, with a 3 indicating a difficult parent.
The principal issued an apology to the families. At least one family has already filed a complaint based on the information violating their privacy.

Check out the source here

The Three Most Dangerous Kinds of Identity Theft

April 1st, 2015

Identity theft is awful, inconvenient, life changing and costly. But according to USA Today the three most dangerous types of identity theft are Child ID theft, Medical ID theft and Tax ID theft. Why?

Child ID theft can take years to discover. Often children will not realize they have been a victim until years later when they go to establish their own legitimate credit.
Check out this previous blog on protecting your children from ID theft. PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN’S IDENTITY

Medical ID theft can be scary since it results in your personal information landing in the wrong hands. It could potential lead to deadly medical mistakes. Make sure to review all your medical statements.

Tax ID theft is one of the easier ways for thieves to make money. Make sure to file your tax returns early in the season and shred all your information as soon as you are done with it. Check out this previous post as a reference to when you can shred your personal documents.

WHAT TO SHRED WHEN
Check out the USA Today article here

Identity Theft Still Number 1 Consumer Complaint

March 18th, 2015

As thieves continue to try to hack sites and steal your identity, make sure you know how to protect yourself and your identity.
The most common way thieves misuse your information is from government records. Credit card theft continues to be on the rise. Americans between the ages of 20 and 60 are the biggest targets. Florida was the state to files the most complaints.
Sharing your Social Security number is the easiest way for would be thieves to gain access to your identify.
Shredding all records with your Social Security number and personal information and limiting the number of agencies that have access to your information is the best way to limit your risk of identity theft.

Check out this article

Scary number of identity thefts at BSU

March 12th, 2015

Employees of Ball State University have been realizing they have something in common and it isn’t a good thing. As several BSU employees have been filing their tax returns they have been alerted that a tax return has already been filed under their Social Security number. One professor learned that her’s, her husband and her children’s Social Security numbers have been stole. It is no coincidence that weeks prior there was a data breach of Anthem health insurance where hackers stole names, birth dates, Social Security numbers in addition to other personal information. At least 17 victims have been confirmed at BSU alone.

There is a twist though, all of the identity theft victims have received unsolicited refunds in the form of a pre-paid debit card between $7,000 and $9,000 from RushCard, T-Mobile and Green Dot.

Check out the whole story here.