When the receipts and bank statements pile up, your first inclining may be to just tear them up and toss them. If you’re like many households that collect those small grocery shopping bags, you probably double tie the handles and throw everything away without a moment’s thought. It may not occur to you, however, that even in this state you risk having your personal and financial information exposed.
It is possible that “Dumpster divers,” in an attempt to search for credit card numbers and other cast-off private information, can piece together enough torn receipts and bank papers to steal a person’s identity. If you are only half-heartedly destroying expired information it is not enough to protect you. Using a shredder to handle this data is the best way to ensure your account numbers, and good name, remain safe.
What to Shred
Look around your home office at all the paper piling up on your desk. If you like to keep accurate records for tax time it is understandable that you will have so much stuff. However, since audits can only be done going back five years, there really is no reason to hang out to outdated paperwork, so do not be afraid to throw it out.
What should go, properly shredded? Here is just a short list:
- Bank statements and other correspondence from financial institutions.
- Credit cards receives of all types.
- Any mail from financial institutions that you no longer need.
- Expired identification cards and credit cards.
- Leftover blank checks from closed accounts.
- Any other unneeded papers that contain private information that could have been used to steal your identity – licenses, leases, etc.
How to Shred
Once you have gathered all the necessary data to destroy, you have options. Depending on the size of your offering, you can invest in an office shredder – but make sure you get one the renders everything illegible. A persistent thief may still be able to piece together strips of papers.
For small businesses or households with a ton of stuff to shred, you are better off contacting a professional shredding service. One advantage to such a service is that the equipment used is designed to completely mutilate the paper so nobody can read numbers or writing. Furthermore, a reputable company will not simply toss your waste. Everything is protected and sent to a recycling plant that uses your shredding to create new products. You protect your good name and help the planet!
So before you pack away any papers and take up much valuable space in your home, consider a thorough shredding to keep your name and your money safe.