Thursday, December 8, 2011

What Needs to Be Shredded? Take Care of Your Identity's Safety

When you have the opportunity to take your personal documents to be shredded, you can decrease the risk of having your identity stolen by thieves who will apply for credit cards in your name. It is important to ensure that none of your important papers with personal information are made available to people who may try to take advantage of you. Therefore, when you meet with a professional shredding service, here are the top items to have ready for destruction.

Cancelled Checks - After you have reconciled payments from your checking account, shred the checks that come back to you - if your bank still does this. Don't leave any trace of your checking account number behind.

Pre-approval Mail from Credit Card Companies - We may be inclined to throw out that envelope that screams how we are pre-approved for credit. If you throw it out whole, somebody could fill out that application and get a card in your name. Don't take that chance.

Expired Credit Cards - Leave one behind and somebody could try to use it to steal your identity.

Medical Records - These records contain your life health history and other private information. Some things do not need to be made public.

Storage Data - Anything you have used to keep personal information - USB drives, cassettes, floppy discs, and even microfilm - should be destroyed if it's no longer used.

Work-Related Documents - These may include payroll reports, employees records, accounting records, contracts, and proposals for projects. Anything considered exclusive and confidential should be shredded if they are no longer relevant to your needs.

Inventory Records - If you maintain a warehouse, an inventory list can assist in thief in knowing what to take from you. What records you do not need, seal them away or have them destroyed.

Legal Documents - Leases, contracts, outdated wills are among the legal documents you should shred if you no longer need them.

Correspondence - Letters, faxes, and e-mails saved to a disc reveal more personal information than an identity thief needs to know about you. If you have no reason to keep the letters in a safe place (for sentimentality), take them to a shredder.

Once you rid your home or office space of the paper clutter, you reduce the risk of somebody finding your information and using it to their advantage. Thieves are clever when it comes to stealing identities, so don't give one an easy ticket.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Newport News shredding and South Carolina shredding.

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