As online data breaches and identity theft become more common headline news, your paper documents continue to become extremely vulnerable. Paper documents, such as, bank Statements, tax returns, credit reports, and even junk mail can be used to steal your identity. But what do criminals do with this sort of information? They are using it to obtain credit, get a loan, open a bank account, or even apply for an ID card. Sounds extreme, right? Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more prevalent. Thieves are looking for documents that have your social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank accounts, and any other identifying information to reach their end goal.
The most common way to obtain paper documents is by rummaging through trash cans for personal information, otherwise known as “dumpster diving.” This can happen at your home, your parents’, and grandparents’ homes, or in any garbage receptacle placed where you work, shop, eat, worship, do business, bank, get healthcare, etc.
Fortunately, identity theft resulting from items stolen from the trash is the easiest type of crime to prevent. Document shredding reduces a bundle of paper into millions of tiny strips, each indecipherable and unable to be reconstructed.
3 Simple Steps to Reduce Identity Theft With Shredding
1. Invest in a Personal Shredding Device
Purchasing a shredder for your home office, preferably one that “cross cuts” could help you to manage the information that comes in and is no longer needed. Shred all sensitive information including bank and credit card statements that you do not require, carbon-copy charge receipts with your account information, insurance forms, physician bills, medical records, child and school related mail, etc. If your shredder is not capable of shredding credit cards cut them up into pieces before discarding them.
2. Destroy Junk Mail
Junk mail is delivered every day. Sometimes these pieces of mail contain sensitive information, and if in the wrong hands, can cause damage. Destroy any paperwork or mail that includes: Account numbers, driver’s license number, birth dates, passwords and PINs, signatures, and social security numbers. To protect your privacy, you should also consider shredding items that include: Names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. Take all receipts from tellers and cashiers and shred them yourself.
3. Contract with a Commercial Shredding Company
For larger jobs and office information, consider hiring a commercial shredding company. Document shredding is an easy and economical way to keep you, your family, and your business safe. Many shredding companies provide the following for your company’s convenience:
- Scheduled shredding
- One Time Purges
- On-Site Shredding
- Shred Bags for Remote Workers
- Hard Disk Drive Destruction
- Add to Your Green Initiatives
Your name and finances could face severe damage, especially without early detection and action. Even if caught early, you can spend months and thousands of dollars repairing your credit rating. Even worse, you can find yourself accused of a crime that somebody committed on your behalf with your personal information. By being proactive with your information and shredding the items you no longer need, you can protect yourself, your reputation, and your family.