Did you know that approximately 15 million U.S. residents have their identities used fraudulently each year? Identity theft is a real and growing threat. In fact, there is a one-in-33 chance that you will have your identity stolen in the next year. You may be doing everything you can to protect your sensitive information online, but in reality, nearly 90% of identity theft crimes use information gathered from print sources like bank statements and voided checks.
That 90% statistic always surprises people. In practice, identity thieves most often steal your personal information from mailboxes or recycling bins. Then they go online where they can more easily hide their tracks.
For this reason, you should think twice before tossing old pay stubs and receipts in the trash. While most shredding services cater to businesses and medical clinics that are legally required to protect customer data, more homeowners are investing in residential shredding services, too.
We’re living through an identity theft crime wave, and would-be thieves aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty digging through your garbage for any useful tidbit they can find.
Rather than leave your personal information to sit in the garbage bin on the curb, you should shred it before disposal.
What should I shred?
As a general rule of thumb, you should shred all documents that include account numbers, birth dates, passwords, pins, signatures, or social security numbers. That includes:
- Copies of your birth certificate
- Expired passports
- Legal documents
- Signed contracts
- Employee pay stubs
- Voided checks
- Credit card and bank statements
- ATM receipts
- Utility bills
What should I keep?
Of course, there are certain documents that contain vital personal information that you should hold on to. These items contain sensitive information, so you would be wise to store them in a fire-safe box or safe deposit box. The government says you should keep the following documents forever:
- Original birth certificate
- Original marriage certificate
- College diplomas and other education records
- Divorce decrees
- Mortgage documents
- Social security card
- Life insurance policies
- Wills and trusts
When it comes to safely disposing of documents at home, paper shredding will always be your safest bet. The best way to lower your risk of identity theft and avoid clutter is invest in home shredding services.
If you do have a lot of sensitive documents to dispose of, you can hire a company that specializes in residential shredding services. A residential shredding services company will come directly to your home and perform on-site document shredding. Their powerful equipment will minimize the time it takes to dispose of sensitive information, and you can rest assured that every bit of information is destroyed on the spot.