St. Louis, Mo., March 22, 2013 – If your filing system consists of piles of paper on the kitchen counter – or bulging file folders in an unlocked drawer – you could be setting yourself up for identity theft, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns.
“Identity theft prevention starts with keeping your records safe,” said Michelle L. Corey, president and CEO of the St. Louis BBB. “Important documents shouldn’t be left out where anybody who comes into your home or office can find them easily. They should be secured in a safe place. Outdated records should be shredded.”
The BBB sponsors a “shred day” each year for consumers and businesses in cooperation with the Consumer Fraud Task Force. Participants receive information on how to protect their identities, and they can shred up to three boxes of documents free. The next BBB Shred Day is from 8 a.m. to noon Sat., April 20 in the southeast parking lot at Saint Louis Galleria.
While online identity theft gets lots of headlines, theft by someone who has access to your home is actually more common. People who work around your house, friends, even relatives can be tempted to pick up a credit card bill or bank statement left lying on a countertop.
The Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year, costing individuals and businesses nearly $50 billion.
So what should you keep and how long should you keep it? Here’s a list of types of documents and suggested retention times:
Documents are best kept in a locked cabinet. Computerized documents should be stored in a password-protected folder or on a secure website.
Consumers can learn how to protect themselves or find BBB Business Reviews and charity reviews by calling (314) 645-3300 or by going online to www.bbb.org.
Contacts (News Media Only): Michelle Corey, President & CEO, 314-645-0606, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, 314-584-6743 or 314-681-4719 (cell), email@example.com