You may ask yourself, “How does preventing yourself from identity theft tie into organizing?” As we already know, clutter is delayed decision making and the information overload we experience causes us to question what we do know. When we question, we wait for the most current information shows up. I have an innumerable number of clients with homes overrun by paper as they know not what to do with all of it, especially that to be disposed of.
Here are some guidelines to help you tackle your mountain of paper:
- Documents with either your name or account number
- Documents containing confidential information
- Documents containing financial information
- Items containing your Social Security number
- Resumes and employment records
- Travel itineraries
- Checks received as a marketing campaign
Shred if you Want (although it is not necessary):
Junk mail – including “preapproved” credit card offers
Any business entity that has access to your personal financial information are not allowed to sell it. They CAN and DO sell you name and address. If you were to open one of these envelopes you will find that you are still required to complete the application (including financial information). If they had all of the information already they wouldn’t need it again.
Catalog mailing information
Catalog companies purchase you name and address from companies with similar customer types. The information printed in the “secret” codes only contains where your information was purchased. There is no personal information contained in them and can therefore be recycled with no concern over private information.
Remember, if someone is going through your garbage, they already know where you live so shredding every single thing with your name and address is overkill.
Since we have so much to shred we have two choices, purchase a heavy duty shredder, like the Fellowes Bulldog, or use a professional shredding company, most can be taken to a local office supply store like OfficeMax.
A very small percentage of identity thefts occur as the result of paper information with most coming from corporate oversights. I would strongly recommend using an Identity Protection service like IdentityShield or Lifelock. These are relatively inexpensive and can save you way more than what you pay them.
Have a Neat day!
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