The sheer volume of internet frauds that attempt to lure users into disclosing sensitive information is overwhelming. In light of this, you may have been a little lazy in recent years despite having been trained to always shred mail before discarding it. All the fraud must be happening on the internet if that is the case. However, experts in the security field, like Shred Confidential, say that is not the case.
There is every justification to secure paper shredding especially your mail, and no convenient excuse not to. Although we have learned to recognize and avoid online assaults and phishing emails, physical mail still carries lots of identifying information that might enable fraudsters to steal your identity, conduct tax fraud and other crimes.
Cyber-attacks and email phishing are a problem in urban areas, suburban neighborhoods, and rural areas. But so are physical attacks such as stealing work data and trashcan scavenging in the streets. It’s important to be aware of the risk no matter where you are and to take measures to avoid it. The following are some considerations.
Is it safe not to shred my mail, and if not, what are the consequences?
Experts warn that identity fraudsters still target the garbage of unwary homeowners and apartment dwellers to access sensitive personal information. The information they want usually includes the date of birth, social security number, complete name, mortgage or rent payments, and payment information such as credit card numbers, passwords, and usernames.
Shred Confidential cautions that identity thieves may use the information they find in these files to apply for a credit card in your name. Among other problems, this may severely damage your credit.
Which items must go into the shredder?
Shred Confidential recommends pretty much everything. There are obvious ones like financial records and tax returns, but even spam mail might contain information about you that fraudsters would want to get.
Barcodes may be found on pre-authorized credit cards and limited-time offers from companies like AARP. This data can include things like your identity and, in certain situations, your account number. To get fewer unwanted mail, phone calls, and email, check out the FTC’s online resource titled “Stopping Unsolicited Mail, Phone Calls, and Email.”
Similarly, if a document arrived in an envelope or had a return address label, shred it too. Merely shredding your mail with your hands a few times is not useful. To reduce the likelihood of identity theft, it is recommended that you destroy all outgoing correspondence with the help of experts like riverside paper shredding.
I need to clear up my paperwork pile. When shredding, is there anything I should not get rid of?
Payment receipts and credit card bills may be disposed safely with the help of experts like riverside paper shredding, but the FTC advises keeping pay stubs, medical bills, and bank statements for at least a year. And for caution, save your whole set of tax documents for the future.
Riverside paper shredding recommends that before tossing a bottle of medication into the recycling bin, you remove the label and cut it up since it contains personal information such as your name, doctor’s name, and the prescription number. Identity thieves might exploit the details to steal your medicines or otherwise impersonate you.
Is it okay to shred mail that I get my mistake but belongs to someone else?
Daily, a mountain of junk mail is delivered. Since businesses now have access to a multitude of data sources, it’s possible that your personal information has found its way into junk mail and credit card offers you did not sign up for. When disposing of unwanted mail, ensure secure paper shredding instead of throwing it away. Anyone with your name, address, and a credit offer might open a line of credit in your name, make purchases, and leave you on the hook for the debt.
However, security experts warn against destroying other people’s mail. Even if you believe it’s rubbish. Put a “return to sender” or “not at this address” label on it and return it to the sender. While we are subject to strangers’ mail, parents are advised to check what their children get, as identity fraudsters may use school paperwork and other documents to impersonate their children.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been as careful about shredding as I should; any advice?
Checking with a credit card monitoring company, such as Experian (which offers free checking). Similarly, a data theft detection service, such as IdentityForce (which charges a fee), can help you determine whether or not your personal information has been stolen and used to open credit cards or, worse, to secure your arrest.
Are you planning a trip away? Are you a businessperson on the road? You must ensure secure paper shredding of your trip itinerary. Scammers can exploit your travel plans to contact you and try to rebook or obtain access to your accounts. Consider the methods that may be used to “prove” your identity and confirm where you’ve been. When you want to be safe, it’s best to shred your trip itinerary.
Similarly, even more, private information is printed on boarding permits than you think. The QR codes on your boarding cards may store many sensitive personal data. ID thieves may use airline passenger lists that reveal who is really on board.
If you suspect fraud, you should notify the authorities, freeze your credit cards to prevent identity theft, put a fraud alert on your current credit cards, and submit a complaint with the FTC.
What should I do if I suspect someone has been looking through my mail?
While it is criminal to commit fraud, it is not illegal to look through someone else’s garbage if they have placed it at the curb. But if they are intruding on your property to get at it, like entering through your backyard, Evans advises that you contact the local police. Put your garbage close to your pickup time to discourage others from doing the same.
Asking for digital versions of bills and bank statements rather than physical ones is an excellent method to deter criminals. Consider purchasing a lockable mailbox or installing exterior security cameras to monitor your garbage cans.
One may come across various potential data collection points in and around the house. If there’s any question, have it shredded by a professional like Shred Confidential. It is not worth the little inconvenience of shredding a document to avoid the potential financial and social consequences of identity theft. This kind of calm is invaluable. Contact us today for more details about mail shredding and bookings.