Every year, I make a New Year’s resolution and this year’s is to run a more organized and clean house. I put together a cleaning list which includes things like cleaning out my refrigerator of expired or unhealthy food, clearing out my closet of clothes that no longer fit (largely due to the unhealthy food), and organizing my garage so I can finally park my car in it. Another chore I added to my list is to rid my house of identity theft risks.
You’re probably asking yourself, “Clean my house out from identity theft, what’s that?” It may sound like a strange task to do but you may not realize the amount of personal information that is around your house, opening you up to vulnerabilities from identity thieves. For instance, all that piled up junk mail that you haven’t taken the time to shred or that drawer full of old banking/credit card statements that you’ve collected this past year could bring in tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to a resourceful thief. Furthermore, just think of all the people that are in and out of your house such as friends and their guests, the babysitter, the housecleaner, or even the gardener. If your personal information gets into the wrong hands it can cost you huge financial losses and a big headache trying to clean up the mess.
So here are a few tips I would like to share with you that I make a habit every year when I “clean house” from identity theft:
1. Clean your drawers out of outdated receipts and banking/credit card statements and shred them.
2. You should shred documents that contain your personal information on it. For example, tax returns more than 7 years old.
3. Buy a safe and lock up important documents which contain your personal information and your emergency credit cards.
4. Shred junk mail, especially if it’s for a credit card offer or an offer to buy a new car. This kind of mail still contains some part of your personal information on it.
5. Last, but definitely not least, this is a good time for you to invest in an up-to-date personal shredder.