Not shredding certain documents can make you more susceptible to the potential of identity theft. Identity theft is defined as someone fraudulently accessing and using your personal information for their financial gain. Personal information can include your full name, date of birth, tax file number, address, Medicare number, etc. When someone can access your information, it does not take much for them to assume your identity quickly.
What does this Mean?
If someone assumes your identity, they can easily access your information and apply for and receive loans, or credit cards in your name. This leads to issues for you, because you become liable for, meaning when they assume your identity, they can open a bank account and act illegally, but it leaves you accountable. As soon as someone accesses your information, it is easy for them to become you and leave you in a financial mess.
How to Protect Identity
The first line of defense in protecting your identity is destroying paperwork. You can destroy paperwork by shredding documents. There are companies, such as Shred Cube, that securely shred and get rid of your personal information for you.
What Documents Should You Shred?
You should be shredding any personal documents, and even if you rip up pieces before throwing out, thieves can still piece together information to get your identity. Below are five documents you should religiously start to shred to help protect yourself again identity theft.
- Personal Information
Make sure to get into the habit of shredding any documentation that has your account number, passwords, or signatures on it. Destroy any monthly bills that contain your full name, address, signature, and account details. Especially shred bank correspondences, expired identity cards, expired credit or debit cards, and any tax documents that are older than seven years.
- Social Security Number
Finding a person’s social security number is like gold to thieves looking to gain someone’s identity. You should shred any unnecessary documents that contain your social security number on them if you notice that many documents containing your social security number, you can ask the provider to stop printing it on the form.
- Utility and Credit Card Bills
Your account information and bills will not be as easy for an identity theft as your security number would be, but it can still be used against you. Any financial information about you, in the wrong hands, can be used against you, and that includes credit card and utility bills. Make sure that you are shredding credit card and utility bills, as this information can be useful to thieves.
- Credit Card Offers
The credit card offers you receive in the mail should be shredded. Research has shown that identity theft is typically perpetrated by people who know us the best, such as friends, family members, or neighbors. These are people that know you well and can quickly fill out a form and claim your new credit card and destroy your credit rating without you knowing.
- Canceled or Expired Credit Cards
Expired or canceled credit cards can make accessing your current credit card secure. If a thief finds your expired or canceled cards in the garbage, there is a good chance that your renewed credit card has the same account number as the expired card. Typically, the only difference between the cards is the expiration date. Canceled credit cards provide ways for thieves to gain access to your new account or open a new account under your name.
It is essential to be efficient in keeping your personal and private information private. Make sure to shred and destroy your information secure when you no longer need it as an extra precaution of keeping your information and identity safe.
There are many ways that identity thieves can use your personal information. The best way to protect your information and identity is by getting into the habit of shredding personal information, social security information, credit card, and utility bills, credit card offers, and canceled or expired credit cards. As mentioned above, you should shred anything that has personal information, including your name, address, phone number, social security number, or bank account information. If you have too many items to shred, look for a professional shredding service that can help you securely destroy your documents and information.