Often when we think of identity theft, we now think of electronic means. Although this does happen, theft of financial information often happens in real life (IRL), at your mailbox and in your home.
Many people have mail delivery at the mailbox at the end of the driveway or next to the house. This is vulnerable to theft of credit card offers, bank, card or investment statements.
Financial information can also be stolen from inside your home. This is taken by family members, friends or anyone with access to your house. Whether it is taking cash from your wallet or information from your tax return, including your social security number, there are a few things that you can do to protect yourself.
1. One of the first ways to protect your data is to sign up for financial statements to be delivered to you electronically. This means that monthly you will get an email notice that you need to log into your financial account to see the monthly statement.
2. If you still wish to get mail delivered to your home address, consider getting a locking mailbox. If you prefer, a mailbox can be rented from a local post office or a private mailbox store. These options all offer more privacy.
4. A cross-cut shredder is great for shredding any confidential information you get in the mail or generate. There are also places like office supply stores that will charge you per pound to shred confidential papers. If you have a large amount to shred, often commercial shredding is available, which shreds everything including all those paper clips and binders.
5. A fifth easy thing to implement is to get a locking file cabinet or file storage system for those papers that have a lot of personal data on them, especially your social security number and date of birth. This is often overlooked and can stop casual perusal of your data.
Consider the information you have around you, about you, and try to make it as secure as possible. Although it can take some time and a little money to implement these solutions, once it has been stolen it is very time consuming and painful to try to recover money or your identity. A little forethought and planning is well worth it.