Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. Most consumers understand there are obvious documents of what to shred to protect their identity.
- tax returns
- bank and financial statements
- credit card statements
- insurance documents
- negotiable instruments
- anything containing your Social Security Number
Other than the obvious, many consumers are in a dilemma of what to shred.
In addition to the above-mentioned documents, add the following to your list:
- Medical records
- ATM receipts
- voided checks
- sales receipts listing any credit card information
- photo IDs and old credit cards
Are there other items to shred?
Mail and Shipping Labels
When considering what to shred, include items containing your name and full address. Shipping labels from merchandise, magazines and catalogues contain the information one will need to steal your identity.
Mail from alumni associations, clubs and organizations provide access to demographics, leading to personal information. This is also true of companies that market to demographics such as AARP, religious affiliations or your occupation.
Similarly, junk mail can be dangerous if information falls into the wrong hands. Many consumers don’t realize junk mail typically has a computer barcode that can contains personal identifying information. Shred these too!
Consumers can purchase several types of shredders.
- Strip-cut shredders are not effective since “dumpster divers” can easily paste the paper back together
- Cross-cut shredders cut paper into small pieces, is more secure, but still isn’t the optimal choice
- Micro-cut shredders are the ideal choice since it shreds paper into tiny confetti
Regardless of which shredder you select, add your shredded paper to your recycling container to be turned into new paper.
Some shredding companies pick up your documents and shred at an off-site location. Many retailers allow you to drop off boxes of paper. There are also periodic community shredding events. While convenient, I feel there is little security in these arrangements since there is a loose chain of custody.
A better option is to contract with a company that provides a mobile service called “witnessed shredding”. They shred your documents onsite allowing you to witness your paper transformed into a million pieces. Furthermore, if you set up a regular monthly schedule, the loose document information doesn’t sit around your house open to thieves.
For additional resources on what to shred, select an option that works for you. Whether you decide to do it yourself, explore home shredding options through local retailers like Staples or OfficeDepot. Contact Clear the Clutter if you have any questions on document management.