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Just Shred It -- Protecting Your Identity

Nov 1, 2007
There are few things just as disturbing as the thought of having your identity stolen. All a criminal has to do is get a hold of a few of the right numbers and words, and they can take over your virtual and financial life, burying you in debt that you had no hand in incurring and ruining your credit. It can take years and a lot of money to get everything sorted out, and afterwards you'll never feel quite as secure, knowing just how bad things can get if you aren't careful.

It's a strong argument for guarding your financial information closely, and people try. You know you should never give out your financial information over the phone, and never to anyone at all unless you have some way of being certain you're talking to a representative of a legitimate business, and you know not to give it out to strangers. But are you throwing your identity out with the trash?

People frequently don't realize the quantity of sensitive personal and financial information that can be contained in the papers they throw away. Whether it's just junk mail that you want to get rid of, or you're going through your files and throwing away any records you no longer feel you need, you could be throwing away enough information for an identity thief to be able to piece together enough of your identity to steal it.

Think about it. If, during the span of a week, you throw away a birthday card and bank statement, you've already given anyone picking through your trash almost all the information they need about you to take advantage of your good credit history. Just a little carelessness can go a long way toward complicating your future security.

Managing your financial and personal documents in order to protect your identity might seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't take much to keep yourself from being vulnerable. You don't have to be constantly vigilant. Mostly, you just need a shredder. A document shredder renders any documents that you put out with the trash useless to prying hands and eyes, so that you can clean off your desk without fear.

Even when people already own a shredder, they frequently don't use it enough just because they aren't such which documents need processing. The fact is, it's always better to err on the side of caution. Any document that contains any personal information at all should be shredded before you dispose of it, to avoid risk. It's not as though it takes much work--all you have to do is feed the papers into the shredder, and it does the work for you. And it isn't like you'll accidentally shred something important. You were going to throw it into the trash anyway!

Shredders can be an extremely low-cost solution to a potentially high-cost problem. There are other fast and simple ways to protect your financial information. Your trash isn't the only spot around your house that can be targeted--your mailbox is just as attractive to potential identity thieves. In order to be as careful as possible, it's really best to use a locked post office box for your financial mail. That way, credit card companies can't send you offers that could fall into the wrong hands, and the mail that you send out isn't left out for other people to pry through. If you manage your documents properly, you don't have to be afraid of identity theft. Take matters into your own hands, so that you never have to give your trash a second thought.
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