Identity theft has become an increasingly common problem. In fact, over 126,000 Australians suffered from identity theft in 2014 and the number is increasing.
As the world becomes increasingly digital it is generally easier to find out information about individuals and easier to spend money or take out credit without ever having to see someone.
It is worth noting that while every document you receive can help some trying to steal your identity, your driving license is one of the most cherished documents. This s particularly true in parts of Australia where the number is allocated for life. Even after someone has been a victim of identity theft the number cannot be changed, leaving them vulnerable to repeat issues throughout life.
The Damage caused
Once your identity has been stolen the thieves will take out credit in your name and then disappear. The first you may know of this is when you start getting chased for failing to pay a loan you didn’t know you had.
Because it is identity theft, once you have proved that you didn’t ask for the money, you won’t need to pay it. However, proving this and getting the matter dealt with takes a lot of time and causes a lot of stress. In the meantime, your credit record will be damaged and you are likely to have financial issues.
You probably already know that online banking and other things online offer double authentication. It’s a good idea to sign up for this as it makes it harder for anyone to access your funds.
However, one thing that many people still overlook is the paper trail. Despite living in a digital society you probably still get paperwork almost daily. Credit card statements, loan offers, doctor’s appointments, etc. Anything that comes through the post will have your name and address on it. It may also have social security numbers, date of birth, or some other personal information.
By itself, it’s not usually enough to steal your identity. But, if you put several different documents together you’ll be surprised at how much information you can gain.
The only way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to sherd anything with your details on. However, don’t just get any shredder. When looking at paper shreddersyou need a high-quality one that shreds in two directions.
The finer the shredder the smaller the pieces will be and the harder it will be to identify anything.
While it is possible to burn documents, there is no guarantee that this will eliminate all the personal data. Shredding and then disposing of the trash in separate bags will make it virtually impossible to identify your individual data.
Of course, you’ll still need to be vigilant regarding any documents that you need and carry with you. Losing a wallet can be enough to trigger identity theft which is why you should also verify you have your bank cards and wallet after paying for something.