Identity Theft is not restricted to just digital media contrary to what you may read in the news today. Granted, there are a lot of breaches of University computers or retailer’s networks or lost/stolen laptops that are reported all the time, but Identity Theft can occur at home as well. Are you doing what it takes to make sure it doesn’t happen to you?
Think about all of the mail that you receive at home. Does it include banking statements, utility bills such as gas and electric, and how about water bills? Do you have to pay home owners association fees? What about all the countless credit card bills or sign up offers that you receive? DMV will send mail to your home address. The Government also sends tax refunds to your home address as well. Are you receiving Social Security Checks? Do you get car bills sent to you through the mail? School loans or student loans, banking loans, refinancing your house, all this information is sent to your address, and on it goes ad infinitum.
Now, all it takes is someone to look in your mailbox and take your mail, or rummage through your garbage after you’ve thrown everything away, and there is all your personal information, free for the taking. This form of Identity Theft, known as dumpster diving, can be prevented by using a few simple tips.
If possible, get a mailbox that can be locked. The alternative to getting a locked mail box is to set up a Post Office box at your local Post Office. It may take a little more time out of your day to get your mail, but your personal information will be more secure behind look and key. You may also want to invest in a cross-cut shredder. Anything you throw away paperwork wise, should be feed through the shredder which will make it harder for the dumpster divers to gather any of your personal information. They may see all the shredded paper and just move on to the next house, since generally no one really wants to take the time to assemble all the shredded paper on the hopes of acquiring some personal information.
Try and cut down on the amount of mail that you receive. Maybe some of the companies that bill you offer online billing and statements. By signing up for these services, you can also minimize the amount of personal information that is thrown out in the garbage. You can cut down on the amount of junk mail such as credit card offers or refinancing your home by going to the following site to opt-out of receiving offers of that nature:
Direct Marketing Association
Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 9008
Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008
By minimizing the amount of your personal information leaving your possession, you improve your chances of not becoming a victim of Identity Theft.