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This news item expired on 12/31/2013, so the information below could be outdated or incorrect.
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To Shred or Not to Shred


Last year, 12.6 million Americans were victims of identity fraud, where personal information was misused by a To shred or not to shred.criminal to steal monies – either from individuals or from banks, stores, and other businesses.

To protect yourself from identity fraud, promptly remove mail from your mailbox and take immediate action on all security breach notices from businesses by changing logins and passwords. In addition, keep your private information securely stored in your home – 12% of identity fraud cases involve “familiar fraud” by someone whom the victim knows. Switching to less frequent or online statements can also reduce your risk.

Another way to protect yourself from identity fraud is to shred documents with confidential information. Generally, if a document contains a Social Security Number, financial account number, medical or legal information, a birth date, or a signature, you should shred it. In addition, shred pre-approved credit offers, convenience checks sent by your credit card provider, old pay stubs, canceled checks, and documents containing passwords and PINs.

Prescription medication labels should also be removed and destroyed or blacked out with permanent marker.

To learn more about protecting yourself, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov.