Financial PrivacyFinancial Privacy

8 things you should shred right now

To avoid identity theft, you need to shred paper and plastic documents with information you don't want someone to get hold of, like Social Security and bank account numbers.

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VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

88Comments
Jul 6, 2012 3:08PM
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I think the Kardasssian sisters underwear needs to be shreded.
Jul 6, 2012 7:13PM
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I find the concept of shredding cancelled checks interesting.  Every time you pay with a check in person, via mail, or whatever, you are giving your account number and routing number.  Pay at a store, it usually is slipped under the cash drawer at the register.  Pay a bill by mail and who knows how many folks handle that check?

 

When you think about it, paying by check is not very secure.  By the time you get a check back to shred it, it has gone through many hands.  No doubt some of those hands belong to unscrupulous people who, for a few bucks, may sell your name, address, checking account number and routing number to identity thieves.

 

Shredding a cancelled check is like locking the barn after all the critters escape.

 

My wife does not like paying bills electronically via computer.  She says that gives the account and routing numbers to the recipient.  I had a difficult time getting her to understand that when she mailed a check to pay a bill she was giving them the same info, and that it was actually less secure than an electronic transaction that involves fewer people.

Jul 6, 2012 6:06PM
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Let's start by shredding our credit cards.
Jul 6, 2012 5:14PM
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Fireplace baby.  All of that stuff goes into my  fireplace.
Jul 6, 2012 10:34PM
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Nice article but no one mentioned that if you need any of those records to prove you paid your bills, you will be out of luck.  Someone should have mentioned that your important records should be scanned and saved before they are shredded.  If you think you will be able to get proof from your bank that you paid a debt, be prepared to pay a huge fee for every old check.  Often the bank will not have the records.  To protect yourself, you need to save and protect your records.  It is common for collection agencies to try to collect old debts that were already paid.  If you simply shred all your records you will be SOL when the day comes you need the proof.
Jul 6, 2012 10:16PM
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with most insurance companies today sending their medical billing to India, why worry about whats at your house. Think about all the information there is in your health records. Nice to know that the government is making all those laws to protect this information, pity the workers in India aren't held to our laws

Jul 6, 2012 11:51PM
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I hated those "convenience checks" especially after some were stolen from my mail box and used.  So I checked and found that usually you can call the company and tell them you don't want the checks and to quit sending them.  Worked for me.
Jul 6, 2012 5:35PM
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No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.
Jul 6, 2012 9:28PM
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Damn! I got a lot of shredding to do this weekend.
Jul 6, 2012 7:45PM
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You also need to shred anything you get from Social Security and Medicare, including the statements from Medicare (CMS) showing what they paid. The last 4 digits of the SS are on every page of the statements, but still better safe then sorry. Plus they also show the names of  the hospitasl and doctors.  Also the Medicare Part D monthly statements will have your ID# so you should be shredding that too.

To be safe I shred (or burn if possible) every billing, checking, and credit offer of any kind along with the above suggestions. I pay most of my bills on line and use my debit card for purchases so I just have to trust that those transactions stay secure.

PASSWORDS, PASSWORDS,PASSWORDS!!! A different, hard one for every on-line account, no matter what it is. Even if it's a "simple" site such as a TV channel where you don't purchase anything. If you start using the same password for these, you will create a pattern for yourself, and develop bad habits.

Sep 19, 2012 12:05AM
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I have a friend that retired from banking and she believes that ripping credit card offers in half is enough to protect herself. I always thought it was odd that someone that worked in the higher levels of banking like she did would understand how the system works and would know the importance of shredding. After years of her ridiculing me about shredding everything she called one day to tell me that while online with her bank she noticed some new activity. Turns out that someone opened an account and linked it to her savings and checking. Luckily she got it stopped in time and put alerts on her name, account numbers and SSN. The bank investigated and found that a credit application was used and it turned out that it was one she ripped in two. But the thing they told her was that it was ripped along a fold and it was taped back together so it was "not noticeable" that it was ripped up. She still really doesn't want to admit she should be taking more measures to protect herself. "It was the bank's fault". She has also had her debit card skimmed at a bank ATM and she lost a large sum of money for about six weeks until the bank made her whole again. All this from a person that worked 15 years in the commercial loan department at......................... Chase Bank. No wonder the banks charge so many fees. They are too lazy and cheap to develop processes that protect their customers.
Jul 6, 2012 11:09PM
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A lot of shredders have credit card area's or slots. Some even have cd slots. If you dont see the symbol, don't shred it.
Dec 17, 2012 10:10PM
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when you shred your credit cards just dont put all the pieces in the same bag of trash.
Dec 17, 2012 11:45PM
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How about shredding pharmaceutical prescription labels that come on prescription bottles? Been doing it for years!
Jul 6, 2012 9:41PM
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Whats this a dating site, or abount identity theft, stick to the subject at hand
Dec 17, 2012 10:54PM
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I have used a shredder for years. When I get junk mail, I tear off the address and name and put it in my 'to shred' trash can that I keep next to my computer.  The rest of the paper goes into my recycling bin. I always shred voided checks, old credit cards, paid bills or bills sent,  insurance offer junk mail, and anything that has any identification info.  Most of my billing notices are sent via email and deleted ASAP after I read them. I've almost been a victim of identity theft, twice. I don't want to make it easy for any ID thief. I've gone outside to the trash cans and seen bills and junk mail just thrown out including the envelope and its entire contents. Not a good idea to say the least.
Sep 18, 2012 11:27PM
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Privacy is getting tougher, so keep up on all the latest ways to protect yourself to avoid becoming a victim...
Sep 19, 2012 1:08AM
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well great idea , but keep them for a year , most banks ask for proof  that you paid for anything  an stores , an most banks to day have checks scaned anyway , true burn old stuff i did two weeks ago  it s a lot easyer  but go though the stuff two or three times to make sure !!!! that you dont need it !!!! , i save up the junk mail to start my bbq stove lol,  and there are sites on the web to stop junk mail , credit card offers , an even take you off the web , an phone number can put on the do not call list , , but the way i am see it now the more you try to protect your self from id theft  an unwanted mail , calls  the more they try to put your name on something , so dont fill out  info cards for free stuff  apps  , mags  papers  etc  your name will be put on the list again  , an yes they do sell the mailing list  to who ever has the cash !!!!!
Jul 6, 2012 9:22PM
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I would also add all kinds of receipts with your name, all or part of your credit card number. Old educational records you don't need. Old bank account records and unused checks from them. Old unnessary health and other insurance records (including car, life). Financial account records including from 401(k), IRA and pension accounts. 
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