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Last month two of my friends had their identity stolen. One friend had her diaper bag stolen out of her car when she went to go pick up her son from daycare, the other found out that someone had registered a car under her name. The thieves stole mail from her mailbox. Unfortunately, I am sure they are the only victims.
We’re just past the holiday season, where identity theft is rampant. You can though, take some simple steps to protect your identity. Nothing is fool proof or perfect, but it will help.
Identity theft happens more often in the holidays for the simple fact that we get more mail, we shop more, and there are more people coming and going. The opportunity goes up and so does the theft.
Ways people gather information to steal your identity:
- By stealing credit card payments, credit card apps and other outgoing mail from private, curbside mailboxes – giving them access to checks they can “wash” and cash for themselves, plus lift your account number.
- By digging through garbage cans or communal dumpsters in search of cancelled checks, credit card and bank statements, and preapproved credit card, mortgage and insurance offers.
- They hack into computers that contain personal records and steal the data. (Like what just happened with Target)
- They file a change of address form in your name to divert mail making it easy for them to gather personal information.
Take these simple steps to protect your identity
- Make sure your mail is secure, if you have the option, get a locking mailbox.
- Take the steps to opt out all unsolicited offers for credit.
- Use safe practices while shopping, using the ATM etc. Use secure sites, hide the pin pad when keying in your pin.
- Don’t leave your purse in your car or shopping cart. Ever. We’ve all done it, and it just takes seconds for someone to take it.
- Destroy all offers for credit, “convenience checks” (I hate those things), old checks, credit cards etc.
When I was in college, I used to put all of my “valuable” paper documents in with the cat litter after I tore them into little pieces. I figured if someone want to sort through it that badly, they could go right ahead.
I moved from cat litter mixtures to shredders now to help protect my identity. Over the years I quickly learned that not all shredders are the same.
I have a P-12C Fellowes paper shredder to destroy my sensitive documents. Whether it’s those pesky courtesy checks, old insurance documents, old bank statements – anything that could possibly be used against me – the P-12C Fellowes paper shredder takes care of it all. I can even use it to destroy credit cards. The P-12C can be purchased at Walmart Stores nationwide and at www.Walmart.com for a suggested retail price of $99.97. It’s a small price to pay for piece of mind.
P-12C Fellowes paper shredder
- Perfect for finance-savvy moms and paper-ridden college students, the P-12C’s slim profile design and innovative technologies make it a great choice for at-home and dorm room use. Features include:
- Cross-Cut blades that destroy 12 sheets of paper into approximately 309 particles per sheet, making it extremely difficult to reassemble
- SafeSense® technology which automatically disables the shredder when hands touch the paper opening
- The ability to shred credit cards, paper clips, staples and junk mail for added convenience