Do Not Leave a “Shred” of your ID in Your Trash

Do Not Leave a “Shred” of your ID in Your Trash

You have been diligent about sorting through papers (good for you!), and now you have a stack of documents to discard. Wait! Do any of these contain private information, such as your name, address, phone, email, date of birth, account number, medical history, financial information, or prescription drug labels, among others? You cannot just toss these into the trash. Once something is in the trash, it is free game for anyone to take, including scammers and others who can sell your information on the dark web, exposing you to identity theft and other scams.

If you think ripping the papers in half, or in smaller pieces is good enough, have another think. Someone who wants your personal information badly enough will tape those fragments together. (Remember the movie Argo?)

You need to shred these papers. Buy a shredder, preferably a cross-cut model, and do it yourself. These are not expensive and are easy to use. Tip: if you have pets, unplug when not in use. Curious pets have been known to stick tongues in shredders. (Shudder.)

If you prefer not to own a shredder, you can take your papers to commercial businesses that will shred them for you, for a fee. Staples and UPS stores are among those offering this service.

Alternatively, you might be able to find a shredding event in your community, whereby a commercial shredding business brings equipment onsite. My bank sponsors one every spring. Some years I have too many documents to run through my shredder without it overheating, so the bank’s event is a welcome (and free) service. Other possible organizations that may offer free shredding events are The Council on Aging/Senior Center in your town or the Lions Club (for a donation to their charitable causes).

If you are closing a business where you have sensitive information (such as a medical practice), it would be worthwhile to pay a commercial shredder to come to your office, shred onsite, and provide a certificate of destruction for FACTA or HIPAA compliance.

Believe me, please: the time you spend to shredding will save you hours of time, stress, and aggravation trying to deal with any potential identity theft. How true the old adage: “An ounce of preventions is worth a pound of cure.”

Photo: Pixabay

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