Once your garbage leaves your house, anyone who has criminal intentions can take the documents and use them however they want. One way to prevent identity theft is to make sure you don’t throw out certain documents in a condition that allows them to be used by criminals. Read on to learn about eight different everyday documents you should never throw out in one piece. Always shred them!
1. Prescription Labels
This might be one thing you wouldn’t even consider before tossing it in the trash or recycle bin. Prescription labels, either on the bottle or the bag, probably show your name, the date the prescription was dispensed the first time, the name and strength of the prescription, and the dispensing pharmacist’s name. Criminals may use this information to steal your identity or refill prescriptions in your name.
Always shred receipts you don’t keep, especially those from credit card or debit card payments. These can show the last four digits of your card number in addition to your signature, in some cases. People can use these receipts to make fraudulent returns and use your store credit.
3. Return Labels
If you get free return labels in the mail, always shred the ones you don’t want. Also shred envelopes with your name and address. People can take what you post on social media like work history and family members’ names, and put together your identity. When you write your return address on an envelope, leave off your name.
4. Pet Medical Records
Keep pet medical records of major events and then shred the rest. All papers from a vet’s visit show your pet’s name and one of the most common password choices among people is their pet’s name.
5. Boarding Passes
After your trip is over, shred your boarding pass. It has on it your name, travel plans, and a barcode that certain websites can decipher for an enterprising criminal. The code will often show your frequent flier number, and bad guys can use this to log into your airline accounts to see upcoming plans for travel, cancel your trips, and check in to flights in your name.
6. Extra Birth Announcements
Children are 51 percent more likely to become victims of identify theft than adults. Because of this, you should shred any birth announcements you have left over; these reveal your child’s birth weight, name, eye colour, birth date, and other personal identifiers.
Never throw out an old resume without shredding it first. Your resume has your name, address, phone number, email, and your work and education history all in one place for some criminal who would love to get his or her hands on this info.
8. Funeral Pamphlets
Thefts take the identities of millions of dead people every year to open credit card accounts, apply for loans, and file tax returns. These criminals collect billions of dollars every year in refunds. Always shred leftover obituaries and funeral pamphlets. If a loved one dies, put their age in the obituary, but do not show the mother’s maiden name or the birth date of the deceased, because this information makes criminals’ jobs that much easier.
We’ve mentioned eight items you should always shred if you don’t want them, but what about the documents you should always keep? Here are just a few:
- employment records
- adoption papers
- academic records
- birth certificates
- marriage certificates
- death certificates
- medical records
- military records
- baptismal certificates
- driver’s licenses
- retirement and pension records