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The Best Resolution: Protect Your Identity

identity theft

identity theft

This year we all have different resolutions. Some of us want to travel more or eat healthier while others may want to read more books or just be more kind to others. But, how many of us resolve to better protect our identity?

Every 3 seconds
someone is the victim of identity theft in the United States.

We are inundated with information on how to protect ourselves online. We change our passwords, clear our cache and monitor every online account. But, we never talk about what to do offline. Ready to be shocked? Over 80% of identity theft takes place offline – 44% of it through purse and wallet theft alone. [Travelers]  After you’ve secured yourself online, make sure to follow these offline steps from the FTC.

  1. Lock it up.
    Lock your financial documents and records in a safe place at home, and lock your wallet or purse in a safe place at work. Keep your information secure from roommates or workers who come into your home.
  2. Limit what you carry.
    When you go out, take only the identification, credit, and debit cards you need. Leave your Social Security card at home. Make a copy of your Medicare card and black out all but the last four digits on the copy. Carry the copy with you — unless you are going to use your card at the doctor’s office.
  3. Ask questions.
    Before you share information at your workplace, a business, your child’s school, or a doctor’s office, ask why they need it, how they will safeguard it, and the consequences of not sharing.
  4. Opt out.
    Consider opting out of prescreened offers of credit and insurance by mail. You can opt out for 5 years or permanently. To opt out, call 1-888-567-8688 or go to
  5. Trash it.
    Destroy the labels on prescription bottles before you throw them out. Don’t share your health plan information with anyone who offers free health services or products.
  6. Deliver it.
    Take outgoing mail to post office collection boxes or the post office. Promptly remove mail that arrives in your mailbox. If you won’t be home for several days, request a vacation hold on your mail.
  7. Incoming Mail
    When you order new checks, don’t have them mailed to your home, unless you have a secure mailbox with a lock.
  8. Get a shredder and use it.
    Shred receipts, credit offers, credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks, bank statements, expired charge cards, and similar documents when you don’t need them any longer.

While my family still has a few steps to work on, we’ve got the shredding down pat. Fellowes asked me to check out their newest model: the Powershred 73Ci. We’ve had smaller shredders before, but this one really blew the others out of the water. Every day we stack our old mail, labels, receipts and more on top and shred them into oblivion that night. The big bin means easy disposal and the safety sensor means I don’t have to worry about little hands getting too close. You can check out my full review here.

This post was created in partnership with Fellowes. All opinions are my own.

Fellowes Powershred 73Ci

73Ci Facts:
The stylish 73Ci is great for gadget lovers, like dad, because it features a sleek design and several advanced technologies such as:
⁃100% Jam Proof System that eliminates paper jams and powers through tough jobs
⁃SafeSense® Technology which automatically stops shredding when hands touch the paper opening
⁃A proprietary Energy Savings System that maximizes shredder energy savings 100% of the time – both in use and out of use
⁃Capacitive touch screen controls
⁃Heavy-duty Cross-Cut blades that destroy 12 sheets of paper into 397 particles per sheet, making it extremely difficult to reassemble
⁃The 73Ci is available at office superstores and their online counterparts for a suggested retail price of $199.99.

What steps is your family taking this year to protect your identity?

  • These are some good tips. I know I need to be more careful! We have started using our shredder for all those credit card offers lately – – so at least that’s a start!

  • Identity theft is one thing that probably scares most of us. I was just in email contact with a lady who did have her identity stolen and is having a very hard time getting it back.

  • These are all awesome tips. I do worry about someone stealing my identity, but then I think that not only am I wicked lame, but I am broke, too, so who would want to be me in the first place LOL.

  • I live in a small rural town, so we don’t have too many issues like this. The mail is never delivered to our homes, and we all have PO Boxes at the small Post Office instead. Plus, most of us burn our burnable items like paper, so that helps too!

  • Every 3 seconds? Wow, that’s really common! We make sure to do a hold on our mail when we’ll be away.

  • I have personally had my identity stolen and I can tell you that it was the worst experience. It took two years to clean up the mess someone made with my social security number. In fact, I am still getting phone calls regarding the numerous transactions that were made under my name. Now I always shred my important documents and watch my credit reports very carefully.

  • Thank god I grew up before all this technology took over. I was trained to be cautious with my info, and even with the most stringent protection, sometimes those crooks are sneaky!

  • Amy Desrosiers

    I hate that identity theft is such a huge concern these days. I try my hardest to protect myself and shred important documents, and use computers with good security.

  • I’ve had my identity stolen. It was not fun. At all.

  • We do shred certain documents, but we could be doing so much more to protect our identities. It’s a scary world, and I’d hate for my personal information to be used without my knowing.

  • Great tips! I have a drawer full of stuff I refuse to throw away before I shred it! One day I’m going to have a shred fest!

  • We shred all of our past bills and other outdated documents. I’m too paranoid that someone will dig through our trash and find important details. Better safe than sorry though!

  • we have a fellowes shredder and use VPN service. its so important to protect ourselves!

  • I definitely never thought about the prescription bottles. I’ll be making that change going forward!

  • I have been a big proponent of shredding documents for years. I also try to put a stop on my papers when I’m planning to go away; and I like the tip about having mail held at the post office.

  • katherine

    Those are some awful statistics. I hate people who do stuff like that

  • i used to be really good about shredding things. My former job had an industrial shredder and I would take everything there.

  • Getting your identity stolen is NO fun!!! Shred everything!!

  • My husband is so so so good at these things. He even removed labels from newspapers and magazines if he’ s throwing them away.

  • I would love to have a shredder. It is scary to think someone could steal your identity so easy!

  • I actually told my husband yesterday that I would like us to get a shredder. We use to have one but it broke and we never replaced it.

  • Ashley M

    Shredders are the BEST way to get rid of financial documents – simple as that.

  • These are really great tips! I have a shredder, I need to start using it more.

  • I need a shredder in my office ASAP! I also get a TON of credit offers in the mail… they are SO annoying.

  • Eliz Frank

    A shredder will save us a lot of headaches for sure… I’ve been a victim of theft and need one.

  • Wow scary! My mom always taught me to keep my purse close and never sit it down! I would like to invest in a nice shredder. We’ve been talking about it!

  • This can be tough. I know some of my friends who are victims of identity theft and I really don’t want that to happen to me. Thanks to your post. I am reminded how real this crime is and now more equipped to avoid it.

  • These are great tips! Some of them I never thought about

  • I had no idea that so much identity theft happens through purse and wallet snatching. I know several people that has happened to but, thankfully, that has never happened to me. I really hope it doesn’t. Scary.

  • We are def in need of a good shredder. This one is awesome!!! Not sure if we can swing 199.. but it’d be worth it.

  • It is important to protect one’s self from identity theft. You offered some good ideas here that will protect people from a lot of potential harm.