We all know that one of the best ways we can protect ourselves from identity theft is to use a shredder for much of the personal mail that comes into our homes. But what types of things need to go into the shredder and what can go straight into the trash?
Here are some of the things I recommend that you shred either in a home shredder or in an industrial shredder such as those found in corporate settings or those available at free community shredding events such as the ones I mention at the end of this list.
- Documents containing personal information such as your full name, date of birth, address, work or home telephone numbers, Social Security number, or driver's license number
- Any documents containing account numbers, passwords, or user names
- The pages of junk mail that have your name and address or computer bar codes which may contain personal information
- Financial documents that contain information specific to your accounts
- Credit card offers and applications
- Blank courtesy checks
- Monthly bills
- Old credit cards and credit card statements
- Unused checks
- Any tax documents that contain personal information
- Anything with your signature, including receipts that have all but the last four digits of your account hidden
If you would prefer to do your shredding at home, I recommend that you invest in the best cross-cut or diamond-cut shredder that you can afford. Don't waste your money on the cheaper strip-cut shredders as their shredding can be put back together by identity thieves and the cheaper machines wear out really quickly.