I try to stay on top of paperwork, but I admit, it’s not my forte. I’m an organization freak, but when it comes to paperwork, I’m a failure.
I prefer to keep my files on my computer, but I’m not one to scan everything that doesn’t come over electronically. My solution currently is to throw any papers I’m not sure about into a bin for safe keeping. At least I know if I need it, it’s in one of my bins. And yes, I now have multiple bins.
About once or twice a year, I get disgusted with my bins and spend a day sorting through them. I usually end up with about 50 percent of the papers going to my shredding bin. I have a shredding bin next to my shredder for any papers that should be shredded prior to throwing out. This is another area where I fail. I should just shred as I go, but unfortunately I make a future project out of it. I’m getting better, but I have a ways to go.
I realize the importance of shredding, but recently a friend was a victim of identity theft after someone went through her garbage and took information from papers she didn’t shred. At first she didn’t think anything of the fact that someone had gone through her garbage, but after a couple of months, strange things started occurring. It started with charges on her credit cards that she didn’t make and eventually led to various accounts being opened that she didn’t authorize. This led to months of headaches and a lot of work on her part trying to get everything taken care of and her credit score restored. I believe that more than a year after discovering she was a victim of identity theft, she is still trying to recover.
Because of this story I have become more diligent in my shredding. I am trying to shred as I go, but my bins of questionable paperwork will probably be a battle for me until the day I die. It’s funny because I remember having a discussion about shredding with friends in Tampa almost a decade ago.
One friend told me, “I shred everything and then I take ketchup, mustard, or any thick liquid that I am throwing out and smear it in the shredded papers so no one will try to piece it together.”
At the time I thought this was a little extreme. Actually, I still think it’s a little extreme, but my friend who was the victim of identity theft has also started with this practice.
Unfortunately, even throwing out garbage and paperwork requires us to think about what could happen. So the next time you’re going through your mail, remember, there are people out there that are crafty and can use your old mail to become you.