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9 Documents to Shred to Protect Your Identity

How in the heck do they get all this information?!

Your guide to document shredding to keep your personal information safe.

Shredding services are incredibly important to keep our identities safe.

Because 2018 claimed 14.4 million identity theft victims.

And I can attest to this craziness first hand! After having my wallet stollen, I suffered multiple acts of identity theft. This is FREAKY stuff and we must protect ourselves.

So what do we shred? It may seem obvious to shred items containing social security numbers and medical records. But these thieves are skilled and will use any snippet of information to weasel their way into your life. In short, shred any document containing: your name, address, contact information, or other sensitive personal information. Consider these other items, which could easily slip our minds…

1 – Mailed Offers

  • It’s tempting to throw those obnoxious mailed offers away.
  • BUT skilled identity thieves could use these offers to start accounts (especially credit cards) in your name.
  • To avoid having phony accounts, keep all those mailed offers for shredding.

2 – Deposited or Void Checks

  • Just because it’s void doesn’t mean you’re in the clear!
  • Routing and account numbers are still up for grabs on those deposited and voided checks.
  • Tip: Shred or rip up all deposited and voided checks. Go the extra mile and ask your friends to do the same!

3 – Tax Docs… What’s the Rule?

According to the IRS, keep records for…

  • 3 years from the date you filed your original return
  • 7 years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction.
  • Once your tax docs have reached their expiration dates, SHRED. SHRED. SHRED.

4 – Plane Tickets & Luggage Tags

  • Seriously?! Yes.
  • These seemingly thoughtless tags and little pieces of paper contain your personal information.
  • That adhesive label includes your destination, which thieves can use to track your location and learn more about YOU. Scary, right?
  • Rip them up or save them to shred!

5 – Prescription Labels & Receipts

  • Prescription bottle labels might be a given.
  • Also be sure to shred the prescription receipts.
  • Receipts may also contain personal information as well as the prescription dosage.
  • Thieves may use this information to falsely refill a prescription OR that bit of personal information gives them more of the details they need to steal your identity.

6 – Shipping Labels

  • It’s true. We all re-use and recycle shipping boxes.
  • BUT before you break that box down, get rid of shipping label AND barcodes on the boxes.
  • Can’t tear the label off? Black out all personal information and barcodes with a large marker.

7 – Magazine Covers

  • You may think we are starting to sound a little crazy here, but these thieves know no boundaries!
  • Same as junk mail, these mailed magazines contain your name, address, and sometimes a barcode.
  • Next time you finish reading Vogue, tear off the cover and save it for shredding.

8 – Children’s School Documents

  • Thieves don’t care if their victim is 5 or 50. Keep the kiddos safe too!
  • From report cards to various school correspondence, many of these documents contain your child’s personal information.
  • It would even be helpful to shred field trip permission slips. You can never be too safe!

9 – ATM Receipts

  • I typically crumble these up and throw them away.
  • Boy, was I wrong!
  • Just like some of the other examples, these receipts contain barcodes that can be traced back to you.
  • And your bank account is the LAST thing you want thieves to have access to!

Now that we’re all sufficiently creeped out by these conniving thieves, let’s talk logistics!

Where to keep these documents?

A fire safe will securely house all of your documents until they are ready to be shredded. Find your best fit from Insider Pick’s Best Fire Safes for your home or office.

HOW do I shred all these documents?

Invest in a paper shredder! Business Insider highlights the top shredders of 2019, ranging from a budget-friendly choice to a high-performance option perfect for small businesses.

Many office supply and shipping stores offer shredding services. Find local options on Yelp’s 10 Best 10 Shredding Services Guide.

Stay one step ahead of those skilled thieves! Protect yourself and your family from identity theft with these paper shredding tips.

Get to know Cynthia!

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