Continuing from last week; more ideas on organizing for safety…
~ Shred documents: A crosscut shredder is best. Shred credit card solicitations and anything else that has information that could cause a problem if it got in the hands of some unsavory character. The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.
~ If you are getting too many solicitations in the mail, consider opting out. Go to www.optoutprescreen.com. You will no longer receive offers for credit cards – which creates less of an opportunity for someone to steal and a need for you to shred. If you are concerned about the security of your mail or are not present to receive it, consider getting a locking mailbox.
~ Photocopy everything that’s in your wallet – in the event you lose it or it’s stolen. Make sure you have a list in your files of all your credit cards and the numbers to call. Don’t carry checks in your wallet or purse. (And of course, never carry your social security number.)
~ Write on the back of your credit cards “Request ID.”
~ Keep tabs on your credit card accounts online: check them regularly, and set up email alerts.
~ Create folders for your credit/debit accounts. Put the original account agreement and welcome kits in them and all subsequent updates and bills.
~ Check your free credit report on a regular basis.
~ Do not use debit cards. Or if you do, use them places where you have a relationship with a merchant you trust. Don’t use them in convenience stores, and certainly not in the “bad parts of town.” If someone steals your information, it’s much more difficult to get the money returned than with credit cards.
~ Make sure and reconcile your bank statements regularly.
~ Create folders for every bank account. Keep all statements and account agreements in them for ready access.
~ And a reminder: be careful to whom you give any personal information whether it is over the phone or the Internet.
More about Organizing for Safety next week.