Someone on the Gothamist forums asked:
Having just paid off a bunch of bills via my electronic banking account, I am left with various bills and documents in hard copy. I do have a shredder, and will shred them, but wondered if any of you had tips about what's a good way to dispose of these things - shredder or no shredder...
Is it safer in the paper recycling bin of your apt bldg or in the compactor shute?
Gothamist suggests hanging on to your most recent bills for a few months at least. We pay our bills electronically, too (seriously, who writes checks anymore?) but the paper bills come in handy periodically. (The cable company always tries to verify our identity by asking how much our last bill was; it's a little bit easier to have the bill handy than to go fishing through your bank balance... we think so, anyway.) Also, keeping the paper bill is a good way to keep track of bills you've paid.
Anything older than six months is extraneous, though, so unless you're holding on to it for tax reasons, you should throw it out. What are some good ways to do that? Since sensitive information is printed on bills (account numbers, social security numbers, whatever) it probably is a good idea to just shred the bills if possible. Now that you're down to shreds of paper, dispose of them as you see fit.
Some of us don't have shredders, though. Gothamist knows plenty of people who just tear stuff up. If you're nervous about visible account numbers, you could just block them out with a black marker. Generally, though, shredding old bills is the best way to ensure your information is kept private, and a basic paper shredder is not too expensive.
Either way, recycling is always a good idea, especially since all that paper adds up. If you're shredding the bills anyway, it's pretty safe to just put them in the recycle bin.
Related: info on NYC recycling.