Prevent ID Theft: Destroy Those Documents

image of shredded paper
*TwinStar Credit Union is hosting a Shred Day on August 12, 2022 at our Ocean Shores Branch (900 Point Brown Ave NE Ocean Shores, WA 98569). Learn more here.

Protecting oneself from theft used to be as basic as securing the doors and windows of your home. But today, an enterprising thief can take control of your assets without breaking a window. Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), consumers reported losing more than $5.8 billion to fraud in 2021, an increase of more than 70 percent over the previous year.

Secure your Identity

Clues to your personal and financial information are often buried throughout your personal paperwork and mail. People look for this information in your mail box and trash. They use credit cards, financial statements and utility bills to obtain and exploit that personal information.

Disposing of your documents

The first line of defense is to destroy documents that contain your personal information before anyone can access them. Private documents and credit or debit cards, which contain sensitive information, should be destroyed once you no longer need them.

Shredding your documents is one of the best ways to ensure the safety of your information. A paper shredder will transform your documents into unidentifiable strips of paper. An at-home shredder will vary in size, price, and function. Three types of paper shredders are available: ribbon-cut, cross-cut, and micro-cut. Ribbon-cut is the least secure, cross-cut offers a medium level of security, and micro-cut is the most secure.

If you don’t have a shredder, you can go through a shredding service, or you can participate in a shredding event. Local organizations, like credit unions, host “shred days” by partnering with firms that specialize in secure on-site shredding. These events will help you feel secure knowing your personal information is being disposed of properly.

Using these basic steps to destroy your personal documents can protect your information, and your finances. As a general rule, it is better to have as few physical documents on file as possible. Switch to online banking and opt out of paper statements. Keeping your finances digital will help simplify your daily chores and help protect you from fraud.