Spring is in the air and I love this time of year. For me it is a bit like Christmas from an identity theft standpoint. It is the time of year when people clean and purge. They clean out the garage, basements and home offices. Trips to the goodwill and oh yes many trips to the garbage and that is where I come in. You see, I am in your neighborhood every week and I can’t help but notice what you are throwing away. I am your garbage man.
I am an expert at seeing treasures in your waste streams. That box of old papers, letters rubber banded or clipped together and my personal favorite, junk mail. With my experienced radar eyes I can spot it a mile away and dumpster diving is not a crime. I even get paid to, well, let’s just say“ handle” your trash. So if I see something of interest, I simply set it aside so that I can take my time looking through your papers for social security information, licenses and other important numbers and of course your signature is always good to have. Junk credit card offers are a gold mine of information. It’s like unwrapping gifts. And, if I don’t find what I’m looking for this week not to worry, I will be back next week.
Don’t get taken by this guy. Follow the simple tips below:
It is a great time for Spring cleaning! Many people take this time to get better organized. I found an excellent article on organizing your financial documents by Suze Orman in O magazine. So what does this have to do with Identity theft, see the highlighted paragraph below and please take her recommendations…… Shred!!! After all, thieves know our patterns too and they will be looking for us to make mistakes with critical paper work. Let’s be disciplined and always keep a container around for paper work that should be shredded whether it is spring or not. Don’t become a statistic and have a wonderful spring cleaning!
Suze Orman’s Spring-Cleaning: Overhaul Your Files and Finances
By Suze Orman
Let’s begin by gathering up your docs. Pull out stray files, snatch the latest round of bills, and empty that overflowing kitchen or office drawer stuffed with papers you’ve been meaning to get to for ages. Sort everything into six piles:
- Monthly Bills, Bank Statements, and Pay Stubs
- Investment Statements (pension updates, 401(k) statements, brokerage and fund statements, and so forth)
- Tax Returns and Supporting Docs
- Policy Documents and Deeds (insurance policies, home deed, car title…)
- Warranties and User Manuals
- Forever Docs (things like marriage license, will, birth certificate)
Next, create a folder for each type of document (except forever docs; see next paragraph) and add new papers as they come in. Then create folders within the folders: Take ongoing bills, for example. Store all gas bills in one folder, electricity bills in another, cable bills in a third, and so on. If possible, keep all folders in a fireproof, water-resistant file cabinet or box; if not, a drawer or shelf will do.
It’s an entirely different ball game for the forever docs. Because of their importance, they must be put in a portable fire- and water-resistant home safe or file container—something that you can grab at a moment’s notice. Why not a bank deposit box? Because you don’t have access 24/7. If, God forbid, you die or become incapacitated, your relatives may not be able to access it; besides, the maintenance fee is a waste of money compared with the onetime cost of buying a safe.
For everything you’re sending to the trash, I have one word of advice: shred. The FTC estimates that up to nine million Americans each year are victims of identity theft, in which personal documents are stolen and the data is used to run up charges on existing accounts or to obtain new credit or debt. That can wreak havoc with your financial life, and low-tech Dumpster diving—where a crook rifles through your garbage to find financial data—remains a big risk. At about $150 a pop, a crosscut paper shredder is a great investment; it will make mincemeat of any important papers.
Okay, now we’re ready to tackle each of the piles. (If you ever need a reminder, I also have a cheat sheet on my website, SuzeOrman.com/FinClutter.) Here we go….
Read more: http://www.oprah.com/money/Suze-Ormans-Spring-Cleaning-Overhaul-Your-Files-and-Finances_1/2#ixzz2NJzU3wUb