Are you a shredder? I hope so. No identity thief on this planet is going to want to attempt to reconstruct cross-shredded documents.
So what, then, should you make a habit of shredding?
- All financial documents and information, including financial information you've jotted on a Post-it note.
- Credit card receipts unless you want to file these away for end-of-month calculations, but ultimately, you have your monthly statements so you will not have use for them anyways.
- Old property tax statements (keep the most current one). But any other tax documents you should retain.
- Voided checks.
- Most things with your Social Security number on it that aren't tax related.
- Any other piece of paper that has your or a family member's personal information on it, including envelopes with your address. Never assume "that's not enough" for a skilled identity thief to use.
- Ask your accountant what they think.
Now, what kind of shredder should you get for your home or office? There are all kinds of makes and models out there.
- Do not buy a "strip" shredder that simply slices thin strips in one direction. Identity thieves will actually take the time to reconstruct these.
- Buy a "cross-cut" shredder. The pieces are sliced and diced too small for an identity thief to want to struggle to tape back together.
- We can go one step further, in case you are wondering if anyone would actually take the time to lay out all those cross-cut fragments and reassemble them: Buy a micro-cut device. The pieces, as the name suggests, are tiny.
- Read the features for that micro-shredder, as some models are more heavy-duty than others.
- You may not want to purchase a machine online; at least you will want to see the various makes and models in person first.
- But if you can't locate the type of shredder that you'd like from a brick-and-mortar retailer, then of course, there are plenty online to choose from.
So get yourself a shredder on your next shopping trip; you will be so glad you did.
Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.
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