home meetglynnis books speakingtopics resources contact

Friday, January 18, 2008

It was garbage day, and I looked out my front window in shocked surprise. An elderly man was opening my recycling container and going through my tossed-away papers. This man wasn't a complete stranger, as I knew he lived down the street and often takes walks. But what could he want with my recycled material?

Later that week, another neighbor told me she had seen him in her garbage! I don't think this man meant any harm, but it was a wake-up call for me. I have stepped up my shredding!

In light of the increase in identify theft, I thought today I would mention some items that should be shredded instead of tossed in the garbage or recycling. This is very appropriate for a discussion on organizing our office space, because it can clear up room in our files if we shredded papers we no longer need.

I found a website called www.preventidentitytheft.com. I am not recommending you purchase anything on their site. But I want them to have full credit for this good information. I'm going to include what they said about shredding documents in its entirety:

Can someone legally dig through your trash looking for tasty credit card receipts, account numbers, or your social security number? The U.S. Supreme Court implies that the answer is yes. In the decision California vs. Greenwood, they stated that the "expectation of privacy in trash left for collection in an area accessible to the public... is unreasonable.
In other words, when you throw something in the trash, it is available to anyone willing to overlook the disgusting smells and textures of your trash can or dumpster.
What should you shred?

The easy answer - anything that has a signature, account number, social security number, or medical or legal information (plus credit offers).

Here's a more detailed list of what to shred:

Address labels from junk mail and magazines
ATM receipts
Bank statements
Birth certificate copies
Canceled and voided checks
Credit and charge card bills, carbon copies, summaries and receipts
Credit reports and histories
Documents containing maiden name (used by credit card companies for security reasons)
Documents containing names, addresses, phone numbers or e-mail addresses
Documents relating to investments
Documents containing passwords or PIN numbers
Driver's licenses or items with a driver's license number
Employee pay stubs
Employment records
Expired passports and visas
Unlaminated identification cards (college IDs, state IDs, employee ID badges, military IDs)
Legal documents
Investment, stock and property transactions
Items with a signature (leases, contracts, letters)
Luggage tags
Medical and dental records
Papers with a Social Security number
Pre-approved credit card applications
Receipts with checking account numbers
Report cards
Resum├ęs or curriculum vitae
Tax forms
Travel itineraries
Used airline tickets
Utility bills (telephone, gas, electric, water, cable TV, Internet)

Okay - so now you are all going to go out and buy a shredder - right? It's a great investment!

Here's my tip - rip off the part of the paper with the personal information, and just shred that part. That way, you can recycle more paper.

In His love,


Jai said...

This list is interesting. I had not though about ALL these things listed, but can see their importance of being shredded. I am passing your entry to my sister. Thank you.

CrownLaidDown said...

So you can't recycle paper that is shredded? I didn't know that.

What a good post! I am so thankful for your wisdom here.

Another thing I'd add is to be careful that your shredder is up out of reach of little ones. I always unplug it and put mine up high in the closet when I'm done...a bit too safe maybe, but I'd not want to have an accident. The older children LOVE to help shred, too, so it can be fun!

Amy Carroll said...

I was just discussing shredding with my parents yesterday. We have years of financial info that needs shredded. Thank goodness our town sponsors free shredding periodically through our police dept. I'd hate to burn out our shredder with the loads that need to be done!