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Tips for Preventing Identity Theft When Disposing of Personal Items

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If you are concerned about the growing problem of identity theft, then you should know that there are some special things you should do before you dispose of many common personal items around your home. By taking some simple steps, you can prevent criminals from stealing your identity and financial information. To safely dispose of these items, take action to protect yourself:

Destroy All Unwanted Mail and Financial Documents

If you often get offers for credit cards in the mail or have chosen to have your monthly bills sent to you via the USPS, then you know how quickly the piles of papers can accumulate. Buy a high-quality paper shredder and get into the habit of shredding all of your unneeded mail and financial documents. If you shred each day as you sort your mail, then your paperwork will not pile up on your desk.

In addition to the above, make sure that you keep paperwork in your home office under lock and key. If someone were to break into your home, you do not want them to be able to steal boxes of blank checks or statements with your credit card numbers listed on them.

Kill All Electronic Data Before Recycling Unwanted Electronics

Since your cell phones and personal computing devices have a lot of personal and financial information contained on them, it is vital that you destroy the data before you take your electronic devices in for recycling. 

To remove your personal data from cell phones before you recycle them, you should open the back of the phone and remove the sim card. Place the sim card into a plastic baggie and whack it with a hammer to destroy it. Send the baggie off to the recycling center to keep the harmful metals contained within it out of the landfill. 

Since your computer and laptop's hard drives contain a ton of information about you and possibly your family members, you need to kill that data before you recycle them as well. While there are software options available that will delete your data and overwrite the hard drive so the original data isn't recoverable, a better option is to physically destroy the drive itself.

The best way to destroy a hard drive is to drill holes through it using an electric drill. Drill a handful of holes through the drive and this will render it completely useless for anything other than recycling. Companies like Ranch Town Recycling Center Inc. can help with this.