Shred your documents to protect yourself from identity theft
When someone uses your identity to obtain credit—whether by opening credit cards or signing up for utilities or even going to the doctor—and then fails to pay the bill, the outstanding debt can show up on your credit report. And while consumer laws offer protection in cases of identity theft, the theft may not be detected for months or even years. By that time, it’s likely already cost you in higher interest rates or premiums. Until corrected, these negative credit entries can disqualify you from the best rates on everything from credit cards and auto loans to auto insurance, and may even prevent you from renting an apartment or qualifying for a mortgage or car loan.
Keeping an eye on your credit report through credit monitoring can help quickly spot any fraudulent activity and minimize the overall damage done. However, taking some precautionary measures can help you avoid becoming a victim. Among the easiest things you can do is to simply shred documents containing your personal information. By keeping this information private, you can make it considerably harder for someone else to access your accounts or open accounts in your name.
Here are some examples of items to shred before throwing away:
- Expired credit and debit cards
- Credit and debit card receipts
- Credit card statements
- Pre-approved credit card offers and applications
- Canceled checks
- Investment account statements
- Paycheck stubs
- Wage and earning statements
- Phone and utility bills
- Retail invoices and statements
- Tax returns more than 7 years old
- Medical bills
- Insurance claim information
- Insurance policy information, including auto, homeowner’s/rental, health, and life
- Expired driver’s licenses
Don’t have a shredder or yours is not large enough to handle the number of documents you need to shred? Keep an eye out for community shred days, such as the upcoming Community Shred Day hosted by United Way of Williamson County’s Emerging Leaders United (ELU) affinity group and Shred-It. At community shred days, residents can bring their documents in bulk for secure, on-site shredding by mobile shredding trucks.
Interested in attending ELU’s Community Shred Day? A Shred-It mobile shredding truck will be at the United Way of Williamson County office, located at 209 Gothic Court, Suite 107, in Franklin on Saturday, May 20, from 8 a.m. to noon. The event is open to anyone, and proceeds from the event will support community efforts to remove barriers to learning, support the community’s most vulnerable, and reduce burdens of financial need.
For more information about ELU’s Community Shred Day, email Meredith Hendrickson at firstname.lastname@example.org.