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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection | article

Shredding Documents Can Help with ID Theft Prevention

We deal with numerous documents and files on a regular basis that we don’t even realize offer up enough information that an opportunistic criminal could easily use to commit ID theft. Everything from bank or credit card statements to pay stubs and even correspondance between your doctors change hands frequently, and when they fall into the wrong ones, the results could be disastrous.

Along with regular credit score monitoring, there are simple everyday things you can do to reduce your odds of falling victim to ID theft. One of the most essential such activities is regularly shredding nonessential documents that have your personal information displayed on them.

In July 2013, there was a major data breach at the University of Delaware that left an estimated 72,000 individuals at risk for fraud. The database had the names, addresses, Social Security numbers and medical information of not just students but individuals who had worked for the school going back for years. In fact, when USA Today first reported the story, the school hadn’t even had a complete grasp on how large-scale or far-reaching the breach truly was.

Documents like your birth certificate and Social Security card should always be kept under lock and key, but items like pay stubs, medical files and university records have equally sensitive information on them and are often nonessential for long term record keeping. Credit score monitoring is a regular habit you should impart to detect ID theft when it happens, but beat the criminals to the punch by investing in a paper shredder.