Do you shred all receipts – or do you toss them into the trash in once piece? For a long time I’ve shredded anything that has part of my credit card number on it OR anything that has me my full name and address. Which is just about every receipt and piece of mail I receive.
It’s time consuming to save all my receipts and sort mail into a recycle pile, a shred pile, and a to do pile. I’m tempted to let more of my personal info out into the world, but I almost had my identity stolen.
Should I relax my shredding obsession? What personal info do you shred?
My obsession with shredding so many pieces of paper started when I was in my early 20s. A friend mentioned she shreds everything with her or her husband’s name on it and I decided to follow her lead. I figured over-shredding my personal information was better than under-shredding. Ha!
Every six months, I fill a box full of paper to be shredded.
Instead of doing it myself, I haul it to our town’s biannual recycling event. A shredder truck shows up and shreds my entire box on the spot, for free!
In addition to shredding, freezing your credit card info is the best way to make sure nobody opens a credit account in your name without you knowing. It costs a few dollars (about $15) to freeze your credit and you have to pay again to unfreeze it (cost varies by state), but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than paying a monthly fee for someone to monitor your credit. With a credit freeze, NOBODY can open a line of credit with your info. With monitoring, they alert you to suspicious activity.
Credit freezing is proactive, while monitoring is not.
Check out my preggo belly in this video about blowtorching identity theft! If your identity has already been stolen, take these steps.
While I know it’s safer to keep shredding everything, is there any evidence that letting the last four digits of your credit card number go unshredded leads to identity theft? I mean, what could somebody do with just the final four digits? Pretty much everybody asks for the 3-digit code on the back. And does it matter if someone gets my full name with my address? It’s already out there in so many places.
I shred everything with our names, addresses, card numbers. Everything. The address labels from mag subscriptions, credit card solicitations, insurance correspondence all go in the shredder. I’m paranoid to the extreme about it!
Amen to that :=) years back someone got hold of my CC statement lets say I was pest off. I had to file a report with the police report, etc. And I went paperless after that.
The shredding you make from your documents makes perfect fill for holiday gifts and shipping. Add it to boxes or gift bags for a cushion of fragile things.
I keep copies of my check statements and broker statements which I file. Broker statements come in handy as documentation when there is a shareholder lawsuit and you may be able to get money back due to stock price manipulation. Also, keep your tax records for five years (longer if you defrauded the government because there is no statute of limitations on fraud). I also keep credit card statements which contain charges that can be written off on my taxes (payments made over the phone, continuing education).
Other papers with account numbers get shredded. I keep a shredder by my desk so that things don’t pile up. I make copies of receipts of purchases where there is a warranty that might need to be proven (thermal receipts will turn black when exposed to too much heat and small pieces of paper get lost) and keep it with the manuals and warranty. Other credit card receipts get shredded after about a month or two when I know that I won’t be returning the item.
I also shred any offers for new credit cards and the balance transfer checks that constantly come from my existing credit card companies. These could easily be used by an unscrupulous person.
Instead of shredding an entire piece of paper, I simply tear out my name, address and any pertinent information and toss the rest in the recycle bin. Those tiny tear outs either get ripped up or shredded. Much less shredded mess and electricity costs. I also stop many unsolicited mailings by calling the 800 number and getting off their mailing lists.
The Unethical Man says
I not only use a shredder, but I use a cross-cut shredder for an added measure of security. I want to get a confetti-cut shredder as a back up for when my current shredder dies, but the confetti-cut shredders are pricey and I didn’t see any great sales on Black Friday. Perhaps I can find something online today. There’s still time left to take advantage of Cyber Monday. The only thing safer than using a confetti cut shredder would be to use an incinerator.
Anyway, I digress. I will shred anything that has any part of my name with or without my address accompanying it. I will also completely shred anything from my bank, mortgage company, credit card company, balance transfer checks, new credit card offers, doctor’s office, purchase receipts and where I work. I do not want strangers to know who my bank is, my place of employment or where I like to shop. I also shred anything that has my email address on it. I do keep the receipts of those items that have warranties or items I may have to return to the store. Everything else gets shredded each month. Before I shred, I first cross check all of the receipts against my latest credit card billing statement to make sure everything is accounted for.
I have gone paperless billing on my utilities (Gas Co. and DWP), DirecTV and wireless provider. But every now and then, they feel compelled to mail me something. When this happens, I make sure to eliminate anything that has my account number on it. Some would say this is going way overboard. And for 99% of us, it probably is. For me, it’s not a big deal to be as thorough as possible. It gives me added peace of mind which a price cannot be placed upon.
I shred daily as opposed to allowing things to pile up for months. If I let things pile up, the task of shredding must be a real burden. By taking care of it on a daily basis, the task of shredding is quick and easy. It’s also kind of fun.
The only thing I do not shred are old expired credit cards and membership cards. For that, I choose to go old school and take a pair of scissors to them I make sure to cut them up in such a way that no more than 1 or 2 numbers can be seen on that sliver of plastic. I also make sure to cut my name up into individual letters. And I deliberately toss parts of them out on separate weeks so they cannot be pieced back to gether again.
This may all be a bit much for some of you, but you never know where your information will end up after it leaves your house. And, unfortunately, there are some sick sick people out there that live for the opportunity to infiltrate a complete stranger’s account(s) and make like a living hell just for kicks, or worse. The least I can do is everything I can in my power to make such a thing as improbable and difficult as possible.
We have a cross-cut shredder which we use for many, but not all, sensitive documents. Sometimes I do as fran described regarding pertinent information. At work, where there is no shredder, I tear up papers in small pieces and then dump them in two or more trash containers.
Just a quick tip, I recently discovered that the paperwork that comes with my prescriptions from Costco has my full name, phone number & address on it. So, I just started shredding those papers. I never even thought about it before, but I sure am glad I took a closer look before I threw them away.