3 Common Data Disposal Mistakes That Can Lead to Identity Theft

Identity theft could ruin your credit history, drain your bank account, stall your tax refund, and even get you arrested. It’s easy to assume it won’t happen to you, but everyone is a potential target. Here are three common data disposal mistakes that can easily be avoided and help decrease the likelihood of your identity being stolen.

1. Trashing Your Paper

Issue: If you were to take your trash and sift through it, would you be able to find any paper that includes any amount of information about you? Are there receipts with banking or credit card numbers? Travel documents with name, address, membership numbers, Social Security, or Driver License numbers, or credit card pre-approvals? We assume that the likelihood of our trashed information landing in the wrong hands is low, but the reality is that thieves intentionally dig through garbage in search of Personally Identifiable Information (PII). They will attempt to piece together enough information to commit a crime using your identity.

Solution: When you pick up your mail from the post office, take it all with you. Do not dispose of it. Allow yourself time at home to sift through it and dispose of it properly. Junk mail is a common culprit of available personal information that gets randomly discarded, such as credit card and life insurance offers.

If your mailbox is on your premises, empty it as soon as possible every day. Have all paper that you were going to discard in the trash can shredded to be sure anything potentially risky has been destroyed. Home shredders are often not sufficient to cut your paper into sizes that can’t be reassembled, and all your paper ends up together so it can be reassembled. Instead, consider using a NAID AAA Certified professional shredding company that serves both residential and business needs. They will use their industrial-strength shredder to destroy your information and mix it with shredded paper from other sources before baling and recycling. This way, your information cannot be reconstructed.

2. Trashing Your Hard Drives

Issue: It is estimated that Americans discard 112,000 computers every day. A National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) study indicated that PII was found on 40% of used devices sold on the second-hand market. Discarded computers are an identity thief’s gold mine, and you and your company are responsible for the security of any information on those drives.

Solution: Have the drives completely destroyed by a reputable, experienced hard drive shredding service. Shredders can make the data on USB drives, hard drives, backup tapes, CDs, and DVDs completely unreadable and unrecoverable. Privacy protection standards like the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) require companies that collect and distribute PII and Protected Health Information (PHI) to destroy it properly.

3. Trashing Your Smartphone

Issue: Americans throw out approximately 416,000 mobile phones each day! Your smartphone contains sensitive information about you and your credit cards, especially if you’ve ever used it to make a purchase. Your smart phone also carries contact information for friends, family, and business contacts, photos, and a lot of other identifying information that put your and their identities at risk.

Solution: When you are finished with a phone, remove the SIM card and SD card. You can either reuse the SD card or have it destroyed. You can also factory reset your phone. Once you have done all of this, you can sell the phone or recycle it with reputable electronics recycler.

Use a passcode to help prevent identity theft in the event of losing your phone or having it stolen. Also, sign up for “find my phone” and emergency data erasure services with your mobile phone service should this happen.

Apex Shredding in Northern Colorado offers NAID AAA Certified residential and business shredding to ensure your documents, hard drives and electronics are fully destroyed and rendered worthless to identity thieves. We also ensure your waste is properly recycled. Want to know more or book your shredding service? Just call us at 970-532-5007 or complete the form on this page. We look forward to talking with you!

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