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Slash The Chance Of Identity Theft With Shredding

Aug 15, 2008
Shredding personal documents is considered a very important part of home and personal security. In a world where identity theft has become a reality, disposing of sensitive information with bank details or national insurance details or addresses and dates of birth is essential self protection.

The repercussions of identity theft can leave a bank account drained, credit cards filled and your name black listed for years to come. It's not just your current assets that you need to worry about being hijacked either; personal information can be used to set up new accounts, obtain driving licenses and get passports issued or even claim social security benefits.

How to protect yourself
The way to protect yourself from identity theft is to establish a routine that ensures all your personal information is safe. Invest in a home paper shredder to destroy any printed documents before they go in the bin. It is wise to shred documents vertically, otherwise there could be whole lines of text with sensitive information on, and there is a possibility of a fraudster reconstructing your documents to obtain information.

Exercise caution if you live in shared accommodation. You may not know who you are sharing a letterbox with; therefore not know who can get access to bank statements with personal information on. You can always arrange to collect statements, bank cards and cheque books from your local branch to avoid a breach of home security. It is also essential to protect yourself online too. If you are using a shared computer make sure the settings are not saving passwords or pin numbers that others may be able to access and only use trusted websites for making online purchases.

When out and about at restaurants and pubs, always make sure no one takes your card from you for payment. All machines are portable and there is no need for a member of staff to take a card from you. There are many card cloning machines that can be tucked into an apron front or hidden under a counter where your card may be swiped in seconds without you ever realising.

Signs of identity theft
If you have not been a victim of a direct crime such as mugging or burglary, you may not realise that you have had your identity stolen. There are however a number of checks you can make and signs to be aware of. Firstly, always check your bank statements for any transactions that you may not have made. You do not have to have had your card stolen for people to be able to use your account; all that is needed is key information that could be got from card cloning or stolen bank statements.

A tell tale sign that sensitive information has been stolen is if you start receiving bills for services you have not used, or for products you have not bought. If you make a claim for a loan or credit card and get turned down yet know you have a good credit history, it may be worth checking your credit file in detail to ensure accounts have not been set up in your name. It is cheap and easy to get your credit history details; just look for a credit reference agency and don't expect to pay any more than a couple of pounds to get the information posted to you.

What to do if you are a victim of identity theft
If you discover any irregularities in a credit file or bank statement get in touch with the relative companies immediately to inform them that an account or name has been used fraudulently. If you are receiving postal information regarding products or services you have neither bought nor used, get in touch with the relative organisation and the police.
About the Author
Shaun Parker is a leading paper disposal expert with many years of experience in the mobile paper shredding industry. Find out more about on site shredding and Shred First's confidential paper shredding service at the Shred First website.
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