Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Simple But Effective Way to Help Safeguard Your Privacy

As America's economy continues to collapse, identity theft is soaring.
Yet stealing your identity can be as simple as going through your trash. And that, in itself, is not even illegal. Courts have ruled that trash is no longer private property once it's set out in the street or placed in a dumpster.

Don't make the mistake of casually tossing in the trash sensitive documents such as tax records or statements from credit card companies, banks, insurance companies, or utility companies. Anything with your address or any other identifying information printed on it should be regarded as sensitive.

Using a single discarded piece of mail as "proof of address," any low-life could potentially obtain a library card and check out books in your name (with overdue notices and fines being mailed back to you). Problems with the local library, though, would be the least of your worries. A single piece of "trash" could conceivably be the key that enables a con artist to turn your life upside down.

Shred What You Don't Want Read

There is a simple way to prevent important documents from being used as weapons of mass financial destruction. Shred them. A personal paper shredder is inexpensive and easy to operate. And it can give you the peace of mind of knowing that sensitive documents have been destroyed.

When buying a shredder, opt for one with cross-cut capabilities. Traditional shredders that merely cut papers into a few vertical strips may still leave you vulnerable. A persistent crook, spy, or law-enforcement agent could piece documents back together. Even two or three strips of paper put together could provide an individual with important information. A cross-cut shredder essentially turns every document into hundreds of tiny confetti-like squares of paper that no one would even attempt to piece back together.

Get The Right Kind Of Shredder

A quality shredder is cheap (many are less than $80) relative to the protection it can provide against nosy neighbors, stealthy snoops, "curious" garbage collectors, vindictive ex-spouses, and other potential prying eyes, including random, unemployed garbage can rummagers searching for anything they can use or sell (their numbers continue to grow in this sinking economy).

This is basic stuff, but very few people have a shredder! Don't be one of them. Note from Lucy: Years ago someone tried to open an account in my daughters name... I learned that it is important not to throw things in the trash that anyone could read.... I started cutting my name and address off of envelopes and I would tear up papers that looked important to me. How many times do you get those checks in the mail from your credit card company, trying to encourage you to spend more? Now, I use a pair of scissors that have five blades to shred papers that I don't want read... I have gone as far as to empty the cat sand on top of a lot of papers in the garbage to discourage someone from peeping... Fingers crossed: So far my identity has been safe...Please don't take your identity for granted.. Have a great week everyone.


At 7:54 AM, Blogger Oh great One said...

Great advice. I'm so paranoid about that sort of stuff. I shred a ton of stuff. I used to take it out back and put it in my mulch pile for extra security! Can't piece it together if it is decayed beyond recognition!

At 7:55 AM, Blogger Oh great One said...

P.S. Where did you find five blade scissors? That would be useful for small jobs...

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Granny Annie said...

Or move to the country where it is legal to burn and throw all your sensitive documents into the incinerator.

At 7:33 PM, Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Misty, I found them at a dollar store of all places.... I really like them.

Annie, You have it made in the shade.

At 6:58 PM, Blogger Fred said...

I use my shredder whenever I get credit card offers in the mail. And, when those blank checks show up from the credit card companies, the shredder loves them, too.

At 8:46 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

I shred many things but I don't shred my name and address. Like if I get a letter wanting me to renew a magazine subscription. I just rip it in two or three pieces and in the trash it goes. I always shred anything with more info on it, such as any credit card checks or anything with account numbers on it, etc. I have had a shredder for a few years now and use it regularly. It's not the confetti type though.

Great advice as usual Lucy!!

At 9:37 PM, Blogger Jim said...

You did good here, Lucy. We shred everything with our name and/or address on it. Most of those go through the cross-cut shredder. We also have an old regular one that we use for some things.
Happy Thanksgiving!

At 7:27 PM, Blogger Mountain Mama said...

I have been shredding all sorts of paper, especially any mail like you described, then I use it in my garden as a mulch. It works wonders!

At 8:16 AM, Blogger J C said...

Mountain Mama, I used to do that, too,until one time I picked a large cabbage from my garden and peeled the top leaf from it to discard and found what appeared to be a political advertisement printed on the inside of it; and it was the opposing party, to boot! 'chuckle'

At 7:07 AM, Blogger Cliff said...

I've found it unnecessary to shred before I burn. But if I couldn't burn...I'd shredd. by hand.

At 3:23 PM, Blogger Ruby said...

Shredding important documents really is the most effective way to safeguard privacy. Some people use their already shredded documents for arts and crafts, making paper mosaic or paper art.
- WilliamsDataManagement.com


Post a Comment

<< Home