Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Mill Creek

You can cut your losses with city's free paper shredding

Times Snohomish County Bureau

Document Destruction Day

Mill Creek will host free document shredding from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday outside City Hall, 15728 Main St. Fasteners such as staples and paper clips do not need to be removed.

How long to keep your documents

• ATM slips: until confirmation on bank statements.

• Certificates of deposit: four years after the account is closed.

• Check registers: four years.

• Canceled checks: one month, unless for major purchases.

• Bank statements: seven years.

• Charge-account statements: four years, for taxes.

• Vehicle insurance policies: until expired and/or claims are settled.

• Homeowners insurance policies: four years after expiration.

Source: Shred-It

Attention pack rats: If free is your favorite price, then it's time to get rid of those reams of old bank statements, canceled checks, tax records, bills and other papers clogging your storage spaces.

On Saturday, Mill Creek is sponsoring Document Destruction Day, open to the public. Shred-It, a Kent company that destroys Mill Creek's city documents, is donating the use of its industrial shredder.

The contraption, which features 2 ½-foot-wide jaws, travels in a 30-foot truck that will be parked outside City Hall.

Unlike in-home shredders, which typically can chew up 30 pounds of paper an hour, Shred-It's monster can rip through 1,200 to 1,500 pounds in the same time, sales manager Todd Van Cise said.

The city's new mayor, Donna Michelson, said she brainstormed the idea several months ago, after a disappointing turnout for a panel discussion about personal-identity theft. That event, sponsored by the Friends of the Mill Creek Library, attracted only 20 people, she said.

"These guys were so loaded for bear with knowledge. It's so sad that people weren't aware of it," Michelson said. "One of the main things they talked about was, 'If you don't own a shredder, get one.' "

Identity theft is the fastest-growing white-collar crime in the country, and financial experts warn that one in six people may be vulnerable to it.

"This state is seventh is the nation for identity theft," said Van Cise, who spent eight years in commercial banking. "You're seeing more and more of it. They are going through people's garbage cans looking for your information."

A canceled check, for example, contains enough data to set up automatic checking-account deductions for somebody else's health-club membership, he said. Credit-card offers are a dangerous form of junk mail; thieves can retrieve them from the trash and activate them.

"My daughter gets these: 'You're pre-qualified for $2,000 credit; just call this number and activate it,' " Michelson said. "So don't throw them in your recycling. Shred them."

This is Michelson's second community project. Last May, she organized a household-hazardous-waste collection at City Hall that yielded 28,000 pounds of old electronics, paint, propane tanks and other products.

"I was so excited; it was a huge success," Michelson said.

The mayor has recruited two state representatives, Democrats John Lovick of Mill Creek and Hans Dunshee and Snohomish, to attend Saturday's event. They'll help hand out information about identity theft, she said.

She plans to do some shredding of her own, too, she said.

"I have bags of paid bills I'm afraid to throw away and my Visa bills with receipts attached," Michelson said.

"I don't need to save paid bills for seven years. But it only takes one thing [to ruin your credit], and then you can spend a lot of time trying to straighten out your life."

Diane Brooks: 425-745-7802 or

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


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