Shredding Your Old Documents08/01/2021
According to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), 173.1 million pieces of first-class mail are handled every day.1 This is why mail has remained a target for identity thieves, even with our largely digitized society. Criminals take advantage of any opportunity they can to steal a person's identity, and your mail can be their jackpot.
We’ve all been told we should shred documents containing personal information, but you could be unknowingly tossing out plenty of opportunities for those seeking your data. Even gaining a partial account number, coupled with the name of your bank, or other personal information, can be collected to open accounts in your name. Read on to determine what you should shred and what you can safely toss.
Bank statements only need to be kept for record-keeping purposes for one year2, then they should be shredded. You should also shred any other bank or billing information older than one year, such as credit card statements, canceled or voided checks, purchase orders or transaction receipts. The more of these items you have stored, the higher your potential loss from identity theft.
Similar to your financial records, you should also shred any documents containing account information, such as utility accounts, cell phone and internet bills or other similar items. Criminals can capture account numbers, even partial ones, or usernames and passwords from these documents.
Any piece of personal information a thief gets is a piece to their puzzle. You may think it’s just your full name, but if they’ve found another document containing your date of birth, they now have two pieces of your important personal data. Ensure your identity is safe by shredding anything containing your date of birth, social security number, address, phone numbers or driver’s license number. The less they find, the better.3
Many of us are guilty of tossing the junk mail without a second thought, but not so fast. Junk mail can potentially be dangerous, depending on its nature. Junk mail usually has a computer barcode on the front, and this can sometimes contain personal identifying information.4 You should be shredding those pre-authorized credit card offers, mail from insurance companies or other organizations who may have access to your personal information.
If you’re not in the market for a new card, or prefer to do the research on your own, you can opt out of receiving prescreened credit card offers.
Your child’s information is just as likely to be stolen and used by identity thieves, so you should take extra caution when tossing mail concerning your child. Medical records, report cards, field trip forms and school applications are all things you should be shredding.5 Learn more about protecting your child from identity theft.
Apple offers identity theft protection through our partner, Allstate Identity Protection. We also have additional resources to help you keep your information protected.
Don’t have a shredder at home? We can help! Visit us at one of our shred events and we will do the work for you!
2.Shredding Infographic | FTC Consumer Information
3.What to Shred | Washington State
4.Advertising Mail Still Going Strong | USPS Office of Inspector General (uspsoig.gov)
5.How To Protect Your Child From Identity Theft | FTC Consumer Information