While we know that it’s important to take steps to protect our personal information, it always seems to end up at the bottom of the to-do list.
But identity theft is not going away any time soon. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 17 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2014 alone. With numbers like this, chances are good that someone you know has been a victim. And you also know how much of a hassle it can be to deal with the aftermath of identity theft.
What if you could cross several items off your ever growing to-do list all at once? Did you know that many of the actions that help prevent identity theft also have the added benefits of simplifying your busy life and protecting the environment?
3 Environmentally-Friendly Ways to Protect Your Identity
- Go Paperless – An easy way for thieves to gain access to your personal information is by stealing your mail. Take advantage of the electronic delivery and online payment services that your banks, utilities, credit card and insurance companies offer. If you already pay online, but still receive paper statements, consider turning them off. Not only do you reduce the risk of identity theft, you reduce the amount of paper cluttering your desk and landfills.
- Eliminate Junk Mail – All of those pre-filled credit card offers that seem to arrive each week are another way for criminals to use your personal information to open new credit accounts. You can take steps to reduce the amount of unsolicited mail that you receive. The Federal Trade Commission website has an entire section devoted to privacy and security, including ways to opt out of unsolicited offers and telemarketing calls.
- Shred Documents – Believe it or not, criminals routinely sift through the trash of both homeowners and businesses looking for sensitive identity information. One way to prevent this is to shred any documents with personal information after they are no longer needed. While many businesses already shred documents with personal information, homeowners can look for similar services or invest in an inexpensive shredder from the office supply store. In addition to shredding documents, these services also recycle the paper, keeping it from the landfills.
So, set aside a few minutes this weekend to reduce the risk of identity theft. Eliminating paper mail will also help simplify your life and have a positive impact on the environment. Then, you can get back to that book or your favorite show.
Some personal insurance policies offer identity theft protection services. Consult with your local, independent insurance agent for information and coverage advice.