One of the areas where you’re most at risk for identity theft is something you get almost every day—your paper mail, most of which is mail you should shred. More than 150 billion pieces of mail are delivered by the U.S. Postal Service every year, and much of that mail contains identifying personal information that can be used to steal your identity. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides guidance on the types of documents you should keep, but here’s a list of the type of mail you should shred before throwing out.
Documents Containing Financial Information
Anything that comes from a financial institution could potentially be used by an identity thief. Sure, you have to keep copies of bank and credit card statements for record-keeping purposes, but only for three years. Anything older than that you should shred. In addition, shred canceled checks, voided checks, and any online purchase orders that contain your bank account or billing information
Documents Containing Personal Information
Your personal information is what identity thieves are after. Your date of birth and Social Security number are especially vulnerable, so make sure anything that has those numbers goes through the shredder. Other information to be wary of: your full name (more…)
Identity theft and theft of customer data gives nightmares to small business people. It can happen easily, innocently, and unnecessarily when you don’t shred your old documents.
Business documents go out of date just like personal papers, but they often contain essential information that can be dangerous in the hands of unauthorized people.
Here is a look at why you should have a planned system for shredding to safely get rid of your out-of-date business materials.
This can affect you individually, your employees, your customers and your business entity. Theft of critical data leaves you at the mercy of thieves who use it to gain money and take over your identity. They can publish private information that puts your business and the people you connect with in embarrassing or insecure situations.
In 2014, over 17 million Americans had their identity stolen, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. With those kinds of numbers, you stand a very good chance of becoming a victim to thieves unless you shred your old papers.
Customers trust you with credit card numbers and other financial data. You may have their social security numbers, home addresses, phone numbers and other contact information. Thieves can make use of this, leaving you liable (more…)
Our research, news, and assessments are scrutinized using strict editorial integrity. In full transparency, our company may receive compensation from partners listed on our website. Learn more about how we make money here.
It’s an unfortunate sign of the times, but parents today have to be extra vigilant in protecting their children from many harmful things. That means constantly checking their social media, phone texts, and credit reports for nefarious actors and activities. That’s right – credit reports.
In the practical sense, no child under age 18 should have a credit report because they are too young to establish credit. However, if you do find a credit report in your child’s name, it’s likely because he or she is a victim of identity theft.
Children are Targeted by Identity Thieves
Children are prime targets for identity theft because they have fresh Social Security numbers which have not been used to establish any accounts or credit. Identity thieves have used stolen Social Security numbers to open fake credit card accounts, apply for mortgages, and obtain government benefits. One in 40 households with minor children have at least one child whose identity was stolen to establish fake accounts.
In most cases the family or the victim won’t discover the fraud (more…)
Shredding companies such as American Document Destruction that are certified and affiliated with the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) have access to the shredding industry’s best and most current practices regarding document and data destruction. NAID is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate businesses, government and service providers of the need to securely destroy discarded information. NAID provides a wealth of knowledge in the debate over recycling versus shredding. Industry experts have written articles and entire chapters addressing people’s misconceptions that paper recycling, often referred to as “pulping,” is a secure method of destroying sensitive documents. According to NAID, “Any organization that selects recycling as an alternative for secure information destruction should reconsider that process, the risks and their obligation”.
Below is a list of items published by the NAID Advisory that businesses and organizations should consider when determining how to properly protect customers, clients, patients and themselves from the risk of an information data breach:
Access to scrap paper facilities is generally not restricted or monitored. Public dump sites do not offer any security guarantees.
Generally, scrap paper companies are not obligated to screen employees.
There is usually no documented acceptance of fiduciary responsibility between the scrap paper company and (more…)
After the recent data breaches in the news from Saks 5th Avenue/Lord & Taylor and from Orbitz/Expedia, it is important to take some steps to protect yourself from credit fraud.
Consider a fraud alert or credit freeze.
You can curtail thieves’ ability to open lines of credit in your name by setting up a fraud alert, or even freezing you credit altogether, with the three major credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
A fraud alert lets these firms know that your info may have been compromised. They will then take steps to verify that any credit applications in your name are legitimate.
However, it does not block access to your credit report. Access to that information can be blocked by setting up a credit freeze.
It can cost up to ten dollars to freeze your credit with each credit reporting firm, depending on where you live.
Keep in mind that you also have to unfreeze your credit when you want to open a new account, and that could take a week or two.
Watch for warning signs
Keep an eye out for small transactions, even as little as one to two dollars that come up on any of your accounts. Thieves will often test a card to (more…)
When more than 145 million people had some form of personal information exposed after a major credit reporting agency in the U.S. was hacked, Americans were scrambling to secure their sensitive information.
Equifax, which collects personal data – like Social Security numbers, birth dates, credit card numbers and addresses – announced recently that an unidentified hacker group gained access to a large portion of its data. That again brought up the question of how people can protect themselves from identify theft.
Equifax is one of the three largest credit reporting agencies in the country; the other two are Experian and TransUnion. With millions of people being affected by the latest breach, some might not want to trust the agencies, but there aren’t really any options.
“We have no choice,” said Cora Lathrop, mortgage loan officer at Cherokee Nation. “I don’t think new credit reporting agencies are going to pop up. It’s just evolved through the years to these three majors ones, and I don’t think there’s anything (more…)