Avoid Identity Theft By Shredding These 5 Personal Documents
Identity theft is terrifying. We take all kinds of measures to make sure that we're safe and protected, but are we doing enough?
One of the easiest ways for criminals to steal your identity is to lift your information off of your sensitive documents sent in the mail. The postal service delivers 150 billion pieces of mail every year and loads of it contains information that can personally identify you.
Here's a list of the top five personal documents you should shred thoroughly before you throw away.
1. Documents With Financial Information
You should keep any information from your bank or credit card lenders for 3 years, for tax purposes. But after that, your first instinct is to toss it in the trash, right?
You need to shred your bank statements, credit card statements, canceled checks, voided checks, and online purchase orders. Shred them, don't just throw them away.
2. Documents With Personal Information
Criminals are after your personal information. They want your social security number, your birthday, and any other piece of information about you that they can gather up. The more they have, the more complete a picture they can paint of you for their own purposes.
It might seem overdramatic, but also be careful of information like your full name, address, all telephone numbers, and driver's license number. This is all information that they can use to pretend to be you online and rack up purchases in your name.
Shred the mail you get from the IRS, from your state's vehicle registration agency, and your employer. Documents that you use for travel, except for your passport, should be shredded as well because it doesn't just contain your information, it contains your itinerary and puts you at personal risk.
3. Account Information
You might think that without a password, account information is useless. But this is incorrect. Thieves are clever and can use this information to discover more about you.
The numbers and usernames for your accounts need to be protected at all times, just like your passwords. Shred anything that has this information on it.
This means that you should also destroy the paper that has your utility, cell phone, and internet accounts on them as well.
4. Junk Mail
Most people think junk mail is pretty harmless, besides being altogether annoying. However, junk main typically has a barcode on the front and sometimes this barcode can have information that can identify you personally.
Those "pre-approved" credit card offers and main from the AARP could have access to your personal information, and with the rise of data mining online, you want to stay as safe as possible everywhere else.
Shred your junk mail!
5. Mail that is Related to Your Child
Unfortunately, just because your children are young doesn't mean that they will be safe from criminals. They would just as soon steal a social security number from a child because they are less likely to get caught that way.
Any mail you get for your child, like medical records and school information, needs to find its way to the shredder as well. And toss any duplicates of their birth certificate in with it. Additionally, you need to take measures to properly dispose of anything that you put your signature on.
Take Care of Your Personal Documents
While it's important to keep many of the documents we mentioned for a period of time due to tax reasons, there's no reason to keep them forever (except for your passport and birth certificate, obviously.) But when you no longer have any use of them, make sure you dispose of them the right way, or you run the risk of having your identity stolen.
A paper shredder is the best, easiest way to ensure that your sensitive personal documents are destroyed and disposed of properly.
To learn more about paper shredders, visit us today!