There are so many high-tech ways that thieves can get their hands on your information. Hacking events, data breaches, ransomware attacks, phishing emails, open port vulnerabilities that affect our everyday devices… those are just a few of the common threats. It seems like cybercriminals come up with new ways to steal your information on a daily basis, and its hard work trying to keep up with all of the latest issues.
With so much focus on digital dangers and cybersecurity, it’s very easy to overlook the “old school” methods of identity theft. When this crime first began to make headlines many years ago, things like dumpster diving for your old paperwork, stealing outgoing mail from your curbside mailbox, and check washing to steal your money were the norm. But just because there are new methods of attack, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about these old tactics.
The Better Business Bureau proudly hosts an annual event called Secure Your ID Day, aimed at helping consumers fend off the dangers from physical document theft.
Find A City Near You
Around the US, different branches will host shredding events that allow the public to destroy old papers, statements, and receipts for free. The list of locations for these events—as well as the requirements in each city, such as a limit on how many bags of papers you can bring, and the need to remove staples and paper clips—is still being updated, but here’s a current look at the participating cities. Be sure to click on the name of the city to read the times, locations, and specific requirements for the event.
Don’t Have A City Close Enough To You?
That’s okay! There are still ways you can work to protect yourself. One key option is to invest in a home model cross-cut shredder. These units are about the size of an office garbage can, but they can give you peace of mind when it comes to knowing your documents can’t be used against you. Even better, the shredded results can come in very handy: use them for packing material, to line a pet’s cage, or even donate them to your local animal shelter to use as clean, disposable bedding.
There are also a number of charities across the country that have opened shredding businesses, especially charities that hire developmentally disabled adults to destroy the documents. It’s a great way to support these vital programs while working to reduce your risk of identity theft.
No matter how you choose to destroy your old papers, remember to make sure they’re completely useless before discarding. Even something as seemingly harmless as an old receipt might be used for harm if it falls into the wrong hands, but certainly, your old bank statements, health insurance statements, medical and utility bills, and other important papers should be destroyed before heading to the dump or the recycling facility.
If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App.