I don’t know the statistics, but I believe a good proportion of identity theft and fraud is a result of “dumpster diving” and not from online hacking. The amount of time, money, and energy you spend shredding documents will be nothing compared to rebuilding your credit or restoring your identity.
I would shred. These are things people can use to enroll kids in school etc. It is almost identification. Better to be safe than sorry down the line. This is coming from someone who’s credit is ruined from having my identity stolen twice.
I too believe in overkill when it comes to the possibility of someone going through my trash and getting any information that can be used to obtain further information in stealing my identity… I shred anything and everything that even has my address on it. i bought a commercial shredder about 10 years ago that cuts paper into little squares about 1/4".
Be careful… be safe… shred it all… but get a good shredder.
I too shred the above. Also, if I get a return envelope with a bar code on it but not my name, I shred that also. Maybe I am being a bit too careful, but only takes a couple seconds to put it in the shredder, so why not…
I usually keep mine about 7-10 years - some people say less. But I wouldn’t shred your current year’s - not by any means. You may need to refer to them for tax or other purposes. Sometimes, situations will arise - where you will be required to provide copy of utilities, heating or other bills. Don’t be that quick to shred - and if you’re worried about shredding - letting a little one do it isn’t the answer. Once paperwork is due for / qualifies for shredding, do it with a shredder…electric not human!
I don’t shred basic bills - the information on those is public information - name and address - heck, that’s in the phone book! :shrug:
Anything that contains a SS# gets shredded, but that’s about it… most receipts and bills XXX out most of the credit card number, so I don’t shred those…
Editing to add…
We also don’t get many paper bills anymore. We pay everything online, so really there’s no need to KEEP anything since you can just go look it up and print it up anytime!
I actually have yet to get rid of a utility bill. They’re all still in my file cabinet. :o But someday, when I finally do get around to getting rid of them, I will definitely shred them. I too take the “better-to-be-safe-than-sorry” approach. I even shred the “current resident” mail that has my address, but not my name. :shrug:
Of course, then there’s my FIL who takes it one step further and portions out the shredded material into separate garbage cans to go out at separate times. I don’t quite take it that far.
Anything that would be any sort of bill we get - is electronic.
I have over the last several years worked on getting every routine bill / statement turned off from being mailed to me. The rare occasionally medical bill may show up in the box, but that’s about all as far as “official” mail goes -except for church envelopes.
The daily trips to the mailbox yields on average 1 - 2 pieces of non-junk mail per week.
Anything that has our name gets shredded though. Again, minimal…
Around here, nobody has a locked mailbox. The mailman opens it up to put the mail in, you open it up to take the mail out. Someone could drive down the street taking mail out of mailboxes and collect everyone’s mail in a matter of minutes! But why be paranoid?
And if you read those “privacy notices,” you will note that much of your information is already quite widely shared among business affiliates for marketing purposes.
And of course, Google and Yahoo keep track of every website you’ve ever visited, associating it with your particular IP address. If the Feds–or anyone else–subpoenaed their records, they would have quite a lot of information about you. Not to mention that all your phone calls are tracked by your phone company, and cell phones can be hacked!
I’m “paranoid” about this because this has been a big problem in our neighborhood recently. Residents have spotted a woman who loiters on the sidewalk and steals the mail when nobody seems to be looking. At least one local resident was a victim of identity theft afterward.
I would invest in a locked mailbox (or a mailslot built into the house) before I would waste money on a shredder. Stealing the mail is so easy and yields better results than digging through someone’s garbage.
I am almost completely paperless. Other than a magazine, an occasional promotion offer from my bank, letters from US Dept of Ed , the water bill, letters from my alma mater, or the occaisonal letter, everything is taken care of online. All of the utilities are in my roommates name and are paid online with exception of water. If I needed to provide proof of address, I would order a paper copy of my bank/credit statements,online of course:p
Not sure what it’s like in other areas, but here utility bills can be used to demonstrate proof of residency with the city government. They like to have something that shows your name and a valid address within the city limits.
The risk of identity theft there is sorta slim, but it certainly can add one more element to someone trying to establish an identity not their own.
Think about it for a minute – nearly all proof of identity is derived from something else. Now that social security numbers are no longer being used to verify identity then other things take on greater value and greater risk for establishing identity. A SSN is only valuable if it is used to establish identity. If a utility bill can be used for the same purpose, then it should probably be protected.
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