One area that most people overlook when it comes to the security of sensitive information is household waste.
Household waste has the potential to make an identity thief’s job easier because of all of the junk mail thrown out with the trash.
Carelessly throwing junk mail out could release sensitive information that gives thieves access to your financial account numbers or even your social security number.
Common ways identity theft occurs with Sensitive Documents
Bank Account Documents:
Any documents that you receive from the bank could have sensitive information like your account number on it. As a result, identity thieves use account numbers from bank or credit card accounts to transfer funds to another account.
Credit Card Offers:
Credit card offers make it simple to apply and get approved through mail offers, but if thieves acquire the offers, they can easily open the account in your name. Before you know it, you have a maxed out credit card in your name and a company expecting you to pay it back.
The same goes for pre-approved loan offers. Some loan companies even send prewritten checks that just need a signature to cash them at a bank.
Similarly, an identity thief could easily take the check to an unsuspecting bank and cash it, then the company would expect you to pay the amount back.
General measures to prevent identity theft is to ensure your sensitive documents are not thrown away.
Do Not Throw These Away
- Bank Account Documents
- Credit Card Offers
- Loan Offers
How to protect yourself from identity theft
Shred Sensitive Material:
The best action to take when you receive sensitive documents that you want to throw away is to shred them.
Unfortunately, identity thieves will dig through trash looking for information that can help them steal your identity in order to purchase items in your name or with your bank account information, but shredding documents renders them illegible.
Opt-Out of Pre-qualified Credit Card and Loan Offers:
You can opt-out of future credit card offers either in five-year increments or permanently. The five-year opt-out happens immediately, whereas the permanent opt-out happens after you fill out a form and mail it in.
Consequently, exercising your opt-out rights removes your name from the lists of the main credit reporting agencies, making credit and insurance companies unable to send you pre-qualified or pre-screened offers.
Switch to Paperless Services:
Keeping with the theme of receiving less sensitive material in the mail, you can elect to receive electronic statements from banks and credit card companies.
Not only will you reduce the risk of thieves taking those documents, you will also help the environment by reducing paper usage, and sometimes you receive bonuses or incentives for using a company’s paperless service.
You win because your information is more secure, businesses win because they are spending less on paper and postage, and the environment wins because fewer trees are cut down to make the paper.
Reduce Sensitive Documents
- Shred Them
- Opt-out of Pre-qualified an Pre-screened Offers
- Use Paperless Services
One side note that goes with the paperless services is that you need to secure your electronic devices.
A simple password or passcode on the lock-screen of a device is an easy way to help deter identity thieves.
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