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Identity theft is a real threat and can be a nightmare if it ever happens to you. The first place to stop is the Federal Trade Commission’s website. There you can find out if your identity has been stolen and what to do if it has.
In their archives is a list of the types of documents you should keep and what you should shred to protect your identity and prevent your personal information from getting in the wrong hands.
Every day, millions of pieces of mail are posted and delivered, and a good number of those have your personal or financial information in them. If this mail is put into the right hands, then the amount of trouble that can be caused is substantial. This is why investing in a shredder and making a conscious effort to file or shred any letters you get that may have information that could be used is vital.
There are many shredders available that can shred anything, from sheets of paper to thick card documents. The best shredder for home use is one that meets your needs. If you’re only going to be shredding documents that are less than 6-10 pages thick at most, then a budget model will work just fine for you.
If you’re part of a company, for example, that handles personal information, a more advanced shredder may be needed.
Documents with Financial Details
The first type of document you should be shredding is anything with financial information inside. Financial records may be targeted for fraud and to gain access to your finances.
Bank statements and any credit card statements should generally be filed away somewhere safe as you may need them for accounting and tax purposes. Only three years of these are typically required, so take the time to shred statements older than this.
Any voided or canceled checks should also be shredded along with purchase orders that have financial details on them.
Papers with Personal Information
Personal information, like your date of birth or social security number, is what scammers are looking for. Anything that has this information can be stolen and used to pretend to be you, so shred anything with this information on it.
Other information that can be used includes your address, telephone number, and driving ID number. Also, papers that can be used to provide ID should be protected, such as your passport.
Documents with Account Details
Another way people try to use your private information against you is online. This is through stealing usernames and passwords from online websites.
If you have any information on paper that may be sensitive such as the logins to your bank account, be sure to shred these to protect yourself. This may include things like bills and statements from the bank with login details.
Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.