My identity was stolen last fall, even though you might say I'm a bit OCD about shredding. In the end, the problems I had as a result of my identity being stolen were negligible, but had I not been so proactive, on top of my bank accounts, and shred as much as I do, it could have been a lot worse.
One of the most important ways to prevent identity theft is to shred all identifying documents. Let's be clear, there are certain documents you must keep, like your mortgage papers, the title to your home and car, insurance papers, tax returns, wills, birth certificates, college financial aid papers, original Social Security cards, etc. Those you should keep in a very safe place.
I'm talking about all the other stuff. According to the AARP Bulletin from October 2008, you should shred:
- pre-approved credit card, insurance, and other offers;
- junk mail with your name on it;
- old papers with your Social Security number on it (but NOT your original Social Security card);
- deposit slips, ATM receipts, and credit card receipts after your monthly statements arrive;
- used airline tickets;
- unneeded medical bills;
- past bank statements and canceled checks (unless you need them for tax purposes);
- expired IDs;
- paycheck stubs after the income is noted on your tax documents;
- monthly retirement & investment statements after the annual statement arrives (keep the annual statements forever); and
- utility bills unless you want to hold onto them for one year to compare to prior year's usage and costs.
You can also collect all your stuff to be shredded and head over to Village Bank & Trust at 150 E. Rand Rd. in Arlington Heights on Saturday, April 18th from 9am - 1pm with up to 3 boxes of personal documents and they'll shred it for FREE! Make sure you take this shredding coupon with you.