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Personal documents are a part of life that are not going to be going anywhere soon. Most documents contain personal information such as addresses, social security numbers, credit card numbers or even bank account numbers. If this type of information got into the wrong hands, then you could be at risk for a stolen identity. Having to fix this will not only take time and effort, but it can damage your credit and bring you lots of headaches. Taking all precautions to protect yourself is the best way to guarantee that your identity will not be stolen.
Since it is inevitable that you will have some documents that have your personal information on it, then finding a way to destroy the confidential documents is the number one most important thing. The best way to do so is by purchasing a paper shredder. However, not all paper shredders are the same. Some provide more security protection than others. The key to getting the best security is in the cutters.
There are three different types of cutters that can come on paper shredders. Strip cut shredders will shred the documents into strips that are the length of the paper and approximately ½ inch wide. This is perfect for bills and documents that do not contain too much personal information. Cross Cut paper shredder will give you a little more protection. This type of cutter will shred the paper into strips that are approximately ½ inch wide and 2 inches long. Finally, for the most security you want to get a micro cut paper shredder. This cutter will shred the paper into micro-sized pieces, making it nearly impossibly to read any information that was posted on the documents.
Another thing that can lead to a stolen identity is credit cards. If you have old, expired credit cards lying around, anybody could get your personal information from them. The best way to prevent this from happening is to get rid of the credit cards when you no longer use them. Cutting them up with scissor will only give you a little protection. The best way to guarantee they will not wind up in the wrong hands is to send them through a paper shredder. Not all paper shredders are compatible with credit cards, so be sure that they are before putting the card in it. Like with documents, the size of the cutter will determine the amount of privacy.
Many paper shredders can also cut through CDs and DVDs. Since a lot of people store personal information on this type of technology, having a way to destroy them is great for keep your privacy. Since stolen identities are becoming more common, it is important to protect your privacy. If you destroy all of your private information with a paper shredder, you will definitely not be at risk for a stolen identity.
Profect against identity theft with a paper shredder while doing your 2012 taxes
It’s almost time to file your taxes! In the United States, tax return season runs from January 1 – April 15 in 2013. Be prepared and protect your identity during this crucial time by shredding sensitive documents while filing your tax returns. Even if you believe your past paperwork is too old, outdated or insignificant, any personal information that ties back to your identity can be used by thieves. W2 forms, specific tax related forms such as 1040 or 1040A, and any other receipts, statements, and invoices have your personal information and should be eliminated after filing.
Your name, address, social security number and income numbers are plainly displayed and should only be viewed by authorized personnel, such as the IRS. Identity thieves know that this is a prime time to collect your information and up their efforts to rummage trash for old forms, receipts and invoices. This is the best time to shred all of your financial or personal information and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.
You were probably saving your pay stubs, receipts and statements all year in preparation for your taxes. While you’re collecting the previous year’s paperwork, why not use the time to shred older papers and documents you may have stored away? You will likely bring up your storage of old documents, statements, invoices and forms from past filing seasons.
There are many benefits to shredding your old documents while doing your taxes:
The IRS suggests keeping documents that support your tax returns for at least three years in the event of an unexpected audit. However, if you’re absolutely sure the threat of an audit has passed, or you’re confident that you’ve done your taxes accurately and reported all income, keep a copy of that year’s tax return and shred everything you used to reference the return.
ATM receipts, credit card statements, business invoices, write-offs, paycheck stubs, bank statements, investment records, insurance policies and big purchase warranties can all be safely shredded after you no longer need the information for that year’s filing.
These days, you do not need paper versions of your receipts and forms. The IRS accepts electronic versions, so scan what you need and keep them safe in a USB flash drive or another secure virtual storage box. Banks offer online statements, and you can download applications directly from the IRS’ website if necessary.
In the event your house is destroyed, having digital backups become invaluable, and when kept off-site (such as with a trusted party out of state or in a safety deposit box) you have little fear of your information being intercepted or simply picked apart with a paper trail.
Documents that do require a paper version include birth, death and marriage certificates, documents related to home ownership, wills, powers of attorney, business agreements, and divorce or child care orders, to name a few. Do not make additional paper copies – however, if you do, make sure the copies are shredded as soon as you don’t need them. Tax season is a good time to look over what can be safely disposed.
Ensure your personal and financial information’s security and use a high quality micro-cut or cross-cut shredder right after filing your taxes. Micro-cut and cross-cut shredders cut paper into multiple pieces, rendering it impossible for a thief to re-assemble. Keep one at home and well-maintained for years of security and protection from identity theft. Unclutter your space, save time and gain peace of mind this tax season with a smart investment on a quality paper shredder.