Clean Out the Clutter and Help Keep Your Identity Safe this Spring
LifeLock® offers tips to help protect personal information during spring cleaning season
Tempe, Ariz. — LifeLock, Inc. (www.lifelock.com), the industry leader in proactive identity theft protection, wants consumers to be aware of the threats associated with cleaning out garages, closets, filing cabinets, and even disposing of old personal computers this spring. Identity thieves are always looking for ways to steal consumers’ personally identifiable information (PII), and may not need to look any further than the dumpster or curb this spring season. For anyone looking to purge old documents and paperwork that have stockpiled over time, or throw out an old computer, there are important steps that can be taken to help avoid becoming the next identity theft statistic.
“Spring is the time of year most folks decide to clean up their houses and get rid of unwanted junk, and often times that means paperwork containing sensitive personal information,” said Todd Davis, LifeLock Chairman and CEO. “It is important for consumers to protect themselves in every way possible by shredding and disposing of these items properly, without unnecessarily putting themselves at risk for identity theft.”
LifeLock® understands the ample identity theft risks associated with spring cleaning and offers the following recommendations for how to best protect PII while cleaning out cabinets, home offices, and garages:
Your info lives on your hard drive – Once a computer has crashed or no longer runs the same, many think that dumping it at the curb or donating it to a second-hand store is the answer. Unfortunately, even if you delete files or format your hard drive, your personal data will not always be erased. According to WhiteCanyon Software, specializing in permanent deletion technology, a recent study of only 129 old hard drives (many of them formatted) revealed more than 5,000 credit card numbers, medical correspondences, love letters, pornography, bank account information, and other confidential data. That is why it is important to properly wipe out your hard drive before your computer permanently leaves your residence.
Lock it up – Not every document or piece of paperwork containing PII is ready to hit the trash or recycling bins, and those that aren’t should be locked up securely in a filing cabinet or safe.
According to the Better Business Bureau:
- deposit, ATM, credit and debit card receipts can all be shredded once the transaction has been verified as legitimate
- canceled checks with no long-term significance can go through the shredder after one year; otherwise, keeping them for seven years is standard protocol
- same scenario applies for credit card and bank account statements
- monthly bill statements can be shredded the year after being received, for comparison purposes
- credit card contracts and loan agreements should be saved for as long as the account is active
- paycheck stubs can be shredded yearly after you file taxes
- consumers with investments should keep documentation of a purchase or sale for as long as they own the investment and then seven years after that
- pay particular attention to anything with your Social Security number, birth date, PIN number or password on it – always shred these items
Shred, then it’s dead – To be safe, every piece of paper that you are placing in the trash or recycling should be shredded, whether you use a personal home shredding device or take your documents to have them shredded by a shred truck at an onsite event. LifeLock will sponsor two shred-a-thon events this May in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Take a proactive approach – Because no one can stop all identity theft, take the proper precautions and engage a proactive identity theft protection service like LifeLock® to help safeguard your PII. With its recent addition, the LifeLock Identity Alert™ System, LifeLock provides consumers a front line of defense against various identity theft threats, and alerts members when a potential attempt at identity theft has taken place. The service is backed by a $1 Million Total Service Guarantee (Restrictions apply. See LifeLock.com for details. Due to New York State law restrictions, the LifeLock Service Guarantee cannot be offered to the residents of New York.)
LifeLock, Inc. (www.lifelock.com) is an industry leader in proactive identity theft protection. Since 2005, LifeLock has been providing consumers with the tools and confidence they need to help protect them from identity theft. The company has a strong focus on educating consumers and working with law enforcement and elected officials to better understand the increasing threats of identity theft. A multiple award-winning organization, LifeLock has been recognized by the American Business Awards as Best Overall Company, by AlwaysOn to the Top Global Company 250 list and most recently by Arizona Corporate Excellence as Arizona’s Fastest Growing Company.