Monday, February 11, 2008

Protecting Your Identity

I'm nowhere near an expert on any sort of identity theft stuff, but I'm going to give you my tips. These tips are pretty simple and don't really take any extra time, and I think they're pretty effective.

First, go buy a paper shredder. You can get one at any Target type store, and they aren't ridiculously expensive. You can get a small one; you just have to empty it out a little more often.

Sort out your junk mail as it comes in. Ok, this part isn't as necessary for protecting yourself, but it is environmentally friendly. Open up that junk mail, toss the envelope and any filler stuff into your regular recycle bin. Usually only the first page or 2 has any of your information on it. That pre-approved credit card offer, bank statement, bill, etc. is what you want to shred.

Now here's what I do. When I shred all that stuff with my information on it, I dump the container into a trash bag and save it. I take a little bit of the mixed up shredded paper out and put it into my regular trash. This way, if someone is serious about getting your information, and they are willing to take the time to put shredded bits back together, they have a lower chance of getting enough bits to actually form anything of use.

As a bonus, when I'm putting that shredded paper in the trash, I like to make sure I put stuff in the can that can rot. Like if you are making chicken and you cut off the fat, put it right on top of that shredded paper. Or if you're cleaning out the fridge, make sure to put some paper on the trash too. Why? I figure that if someone does get into my trash and try to take that paper, they should be punished! It's extremely useful in the summer months when the heat makes stuff smell extra rank!

Finally, to avoid having potential identity theft, and to help save paper, just stop having stuff delivered to you. Switch to online-only statements for your bills. For credit card offers, if you're tired of receiving them, there is a number on the back you can call to tell the credit bureaus to stop giving out your information. When you do want a credit card, just go to a site like to look for the card you want.

These are a few of the things I do. They're simple, and I feel fairly effective.

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