Iowans who may be in the throes of summer cleaning projects need to protect themselves from identity theft as they sift through all of those papers on the desk.

Jim Hegarty, of the Better Business Bureau, says a good rule in avoiding a risky situation with your private documents is to save only what you need and shred the rest.

Hegarty says, “Get rid of things that have sensitive information, credit card statements, old bank stubs, pay stubs, things of that nature that you don’t want people seeing.” Hegarty says Iowans shouldn’t think they’re immune from identity theft, as even people who take the proper precautions can find themselves in trouble.

“There were somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 or 10-million consumer victims last year of ID theft,” he says. “Once this happens to you, it’s very challenging to get it cleaned it up and to challenge all those unauthorized charges on your card.”

Hegarty says there are important documents you do need to hang on to, so mind what you put in the “save” versus the “throw” pile.

“Anything related to your mortgage, current insurance policies, loan documents, tax returns for seven years,” he says. “Pay stubs, for those of you who still get old-fashioned paychecks, you want to hold on to them for at least a year.”

He emphasizes, don’t just chuck old documents in the trash and consider them gone. Shred them, as someone wanting to steal your I-D doesn’t have a problem rummaging through the garbage.