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How shredding your junk mail helps you avoid identity theft

Why Your Junk Mail is Gold in the Hands of an Identity Thief

November 16, 2017


As electronic communications like email, texting and skyping become more common, the more traditional communications channels are taking a hit. Consider your snail mail.

Just the term is derogatory and a sign that the regular post’s delivery times are unacceptable in an age of instant messaging. And that’s not to mention the costs of materials and time to produce a printed message. Package it and deliver it to the recipient.

To take advantage of electronic communications. Many companies are cutting costs and speeding up receivables by encouraging customers to go paperless and stop receiving hardcopy statements. And the amount of personal mail is dropping drastically too. With things like hand-written letters quickly becoming relics of a bygone era.

The result is that the content of your regular mailbox. Which still gets the same quantity of mail as ever, is predominantly made of promotional. ‘Junk’ mail; everything from real estate flyers to letters from the bank wanting to increase the limit on your credit card.

But junk mail’s unfortunate name might be misleading as to how you should handle it. With about a 10:1 ratio of junk mail to real mail in the mailbox each day, many of us pull out the legitimate stuff and toss what’s left in the recycling.

Why You Should Shred All Your Junk Mail

A lot of junk mail has way more personal or corporate information than many people realize. Considering that an identity thief or scam artist can do a lot with just your name and address, imagine what they can do with some of the other information they might find in your mailbox.

1. Bank Mail

Banks love it when you increase your credit limit, so they send you junk mail to encourage you. That mail can include your current credit limit, your branch location, blank cheques with your name on them, and lots more juicy information.

2. Clubs, Associations, Stores, etc.,

When a thief sees mail in your recycling from the curling club, including its address, and potentially information on the upcoming banquet, it can be used to disguise attempts at scamming you or others.

3. Anything with Your Name and/or Address

As we said, just those two things, both of which are used by financial institutions to verify your identity, can be used to label mail that looks legitimate, from your ‘bank’, that attempts to get more information from you.

In the end, you should live by one rule when it comes to any mail that you’re not keeping otherwise secure. Shred it!

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