RALEIGH, N.C. (September 18, 2008) — With identity theft becoming an increasing threat for Americans, now is the time to take steps toward protecting your identity. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns that, when it comes to reviewing and cleaning out financial records, failing to shred sensitive documents can put everyone at risk of identity theft.
The BBB of Eastern North Carolina will host local shredding events for individuals and small businesses on Saturday, Sept. 20 at Ridgewood Shopping Center (3514 Wade Ave., Raleigh, NC 27607) and Falls River Town Center (1151 Falls River Ave., Raleigh, NC 27614). The free events will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Last year alone 8.1 million Americans became victims of ID theft resulting in the loss of $45 billion, according to a 2008 report from Javelin Strategy and Research. The report notes that, contrary to popular belief, only 12 percent of ID theft is perpetrated online. The vast majority of ID theft occurs when the thief has direct contact with the victim’s personal information such as through a stolen or lost wallet, or by rifling through the victim’s mailbox or trash.
“When people think of ID theft they almost immediately focus on hackers and online security,” says Beverly Baskin, president and CEO of BBB of Eastern North Carolina. “But the truth is most ID theft happens when people have failed to secure or properly destroy important financial information including paper documents, IDs, and credit cards.”
Properly destroying personal and financial documents is a key step in ID theft prevention and BBB offers the following guide on when to shred sensitive documents:
Canceled checks Canceled checks with no long-term significance for tax or other purposes can be destroyed after one year. However, canceled checks that support tax returns, such as charitable contributions or tax payments, should be held for at least seven years – long enough to cover the six-year tax assessment period. BBB advises that consumers indefinitely keep any canceled checks and related receipts or documents for a home purchase or sale, renovations or other improvements to owned property, and non-deductible contributions to an Individual Retirement Account.
Deposit, ATM, credit card and debit card receipts Consumers should save credit, debit, and ATM receipts until the transaction appears on their statement and they have verified that the information is accurate.
Credit card and bank account statements Credit card and bank account statements with no tax or other long-term significance can be discarded after a year; remaining statements should be kept for up to seven years. If a consumer receives a detailed annual statement, they should keep it and shred the corresponding monthly statements.
Credit card contracts and other loan agreements Credit card contracts and loan agreements should be kept for as long as the account is active in case the consumer has a dispute with their lender over the terms of the contract.
Documentation of a purchase or sale of stocks, bonds and other investments Investors should retain documentation of a purchase or sale for as long as they own the investment and then seven years beyond that time. Monthly retirement and monthly investment account statements can be shredded annually after being reconciled with the year-end statement.
Paycheck Stubs Paycheck stubs can be shredded yearly after the income has been reconciled with a W-2 or other tax forms.
Utility or monthly bills Monthly bills should be shredded the year after being received by the consumer. This way, if it’s a power bill, for example, consumers can compare this month’s bill to last year’s bill for any major changes before shredding it.
Shred-it Checklist - Don’t just toss it, shred it! • Documents that include Social Security numbers, birthdates, PIN numbers or passwords • Banking documents and other financial information • Leases, contracts or letters that include signatures • Pre-approved credit card applications • Medical or dental bills • Travel itineraries • Used airline tickets For more information on document shredding and BBB’s September 20 events, visit www.easternnc.bbb.org/secureid.
About BBB of Eastern North Carolina: The Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina is a 501 (c)(6) not-for-profit corporation serving 33 counties in Eastern North Carolina. The organization is funded primarily by BBB Accredited Business fees from more than 3,200 local business and professional firms. The BBB promotes integrity, consumer confidence and business ethics through business self-regulation in the local marketplace. Services provided by the BBB include, reports on companies and charitable organizations, general monitoring of advertising in the marketplace, dispute resolution services, and consumer/business education programs. All services are provided at no cost to the public, with the occasional exception of mediation and arbitration. Visit www.bbb.org.
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Web Site: http://bbb.org
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