SAFESHRED empowers businesses to be more diligent about protecting their company and clients’ sensitive information for 2013. 

Through cost-effective and substantial means, we endeavor to work closely with businesses to consult and set up a document shredding program that would include free training for companies that would need it.

SAFESHRED has a shredding program for every size of business and budget – no matter what your paper shredding and product destruction needs are.  We offer a variety of products and services to encourage and enable businesses to take make their conscious New Year’s resolution become a reality.  Here are two simple ways you can get started with your New Year’s plan of action:

Plan to Make a Plan

Visit the SAFESHRED site.    We can help assess your shredding needs and conduct a site visit (review the available frequency, suggestions for policy, estimates, and basic education on how you can protect your documents).

Consider the NAID Customer Employee Information Destruction Program

As members of the National Association of Information Destruction (NAID), SAFESHREDcan provide information destruction training for your employees.

Become aware of how easy it is to make a plan and follow through with it. Protect your documents and products from getting into the wrong hands in 2013.

 

 

 

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Our wallets and purses are day-today essentials for life – we carry everything we may possibly need, along with much of what we don’t. We tend to thoughtlessly stuff receipts, bank slips and other bits of information into our wallets and purses until we can sort through them “later,” which may not happen for days, or ever! This habit can lead to disaster. A stolen wallet or purse is the number one most common means of identity theft, so it behooves us to re-think the ways we use them.

Here are 5 things that you should remove from your wallet or purse – right now – to minimize the risk of identity theft.

  1. Your social security card. By far, this is the one single worst thing to carry around with you. It has everything thieves need to open new credit accounts in your name, and even set up loans and major purchases like cars and homes. Retirees: Medicare cards have Social Security numbers on them, too – so leave them at home.
  2. Spare Keys. A wallet usually contains your driver license, with your address on it. When you add a spare key to your wallet, which is then found by thieves, you are handing an engraved invitation to criminals to pay an unexpected visit.
  3. Checks of any kind. Obviously you shouldn’t be carrying around blank checks, but filled-out checks can be washed and used by someone else. Plus the routing numbers allow thieves to electronically transfer funds to anywhere they choose.
  4. Receipts of any kind. While businesses are no longer permitted to print more than the last 5 digits of your credit card number or expiration date on receipts, there are still bits of information identity thieves can use to search out the remaining numbers. Make a habit of clearing out receipts daily and shred the ones you don’t need.
  5. A list of passwords. These days most people have at least seven passwords and PIN numbers, and it starts to get challenging to remember them all. If you must write them down, do not carry them with you – and if possible, you should place your list in a safe.

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Traveling for the holidays?

We’re accustomed to traveler worries like pick pocketing and the loss of personal items. But identity theft has potentially far more disastrous consequences than losing cash or jewelry. Before you take off, review this checklist to make sure you’re safe from identity theft while you’re on the road.

  • Don’t pack More Than You Need. Take only essential credit cards and identity cards with you, and leave everything else at home. This includes laptops, iPads, smartphones and other electronics that store personal information. This also helps when you’re away from your hotel room, since you’ll be able to carry the essentials with you.
  • Be Careful When Banking. When getting cash in new locations, use ATMs located within a bank branch if possible. Card readers are becoming increasingly common, which thieves install in ATMs to capture your account and PIN numbers. Cover the keypad at all times to prevent others from seeing your PIN codes.
  • Be Careful When Logging onto a Computer. If you’re using an internet café or public computer, make sure you’re on a well-protected one with updated security software – not from a free Wi-Fi hotspot. And never auto-save your information on computers, especially public computers.
  • Use Credit Cards Instead of Debit Cards. Just as you can do at home, use credit cards when traveling, since you can easily dispute a charge if a problem arises.
  • Freeze Your Credit Temporarily. If you have the financial flexibility to do so, and you don’t plan on opening any new credit lines in the near future, you can put a temporary freeze on your credit. This requires additional verification for someone trying to fraudulently open an account in your name. You may also set up a Fraud Alert on your credit before traveling, which expires in 90 days and doesn’t cost anything.

Finally: Don’t forget to review all your home security measures before traveling as well, since home burglaries increase dramatically during holiday periods.

For more tips on preventing identity theft, you can check out 7 Things You Can Do To Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

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According to recent government reports, almost 12 million adults in the U.S were victims of identity theft last year. These crimes ranged in seriousness from unauthorized use of a credit card number, all the way to using stolen identities to buy a car or rent a home. Here are some basic steps you should take to protect your identity and your finances.

Protect your Social Security number. This is the most important thing you can do to prevent identity theft. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or purse, and never give out your Social Security number to anyone who calls or emails with a request for your personal information.

Protect the passwords you use on your computer. Make sure your computer passwords are protected and unique. Try to use at least eight characters containing a minimum of one upper case, one lower case, one numeral and one special character, such as # or ?. Be sure to password-protect your smartphone, too.

Go over your credit reports regularly. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com for a credit report from each of the three major reporting agencies, Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. Review them to see if there is any suspicious activity. You may receive one free report from each agency every year.

Don’t just throw away trash, shred it. Shred documents and applications containing personal information before you throw them away. Tip: You can remove your name from unsolicited credit and insurance offers at www.optoutprescreen.com.  Be aware that home or office shredders aren’t secure enough, since the information can be put back together easily.  (Even old uniforms need to be shredded, since they have potential to be misused.)The best way to be safe is to use a secure paper shredding service.  If you are in the Los Angeles area, call SAFESHRED for a free consultation.

If you suspect ID theft, respond immediately. You may monitor how your credit cards are being used by visiting the cards’ websites. You can also set a notification for purchases that go over a certain ampunt. Any time your card charged over that amount, you’ll be notified by email or text. Most credit cards don’t charge for this service, which adds an additional layer of protection.

Think about other ways to pay. If you have a debit card with a Visa or MasterCard logo on it, there should be no liability for fraud charges, the same way a credit card is protected. But while you have thirty days in which to report unauthorized use of a credit card, with debit cards that window is only two days. If you don’t like using credit cards, use cash instead. You’ll be guaranteed against credit or debit card fraud, and spend less, too.

You may freeze your credit. A credit freeze will stop anyone from setting up a new line of credit in your name. If you don’t have any major purchases coming up  and don’t plan to apply for other cards, freezing your credit is an option. And when necessary, you can “thaw” your credit again for a small fee – and re-freeze it when you’re ready.

An additional avenue would be to have your credit monitored  with a service like creditkarma.com, which provides a Transunion credit score for no charge. It’s also a useful site for looking at your accounts and learning how to better your credit score.

For more information about identity theft and what to do if you are a victim, call the Federal Trade Commission at (877) 438-4338 or go to  www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/data.shtm.

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Identity thieves are more sophisticated – and relentless – than ever. While you may feel you’ve taken appropriate steps to fend off ID theft, you can never be too vigilant. Here are five early signs your identity may have been compromised:

1. Getting turned down for credit.

This is probably the second-most common ways people discover they’re a victim of identity theft.  Should your credit application get denied, check your account as soon as possible – and contact the card issuer to see if they can help find out what caused the problem.

2. Unusual credit card charges.

It’s surprisingly easy to miss a bogus credit card charge. It’s easier to notice them if you keep all your receipts in one place, and match them to your statements every month.

4. Phone calls from unknown creditors.

If creditor calls demanding payment for something you didn’t buy, don’t just tell them they’ve made a mistake – get as much information as possible from the caller so you have tools with which to investigate.

5. Missing bills.

If your usual bills suddenly stop arriving, it could mean an identity thief has changed your address in order to gain access to your bank accounts. Go through your bills and call any account where the bill is missing.

What to do when you realize your identity is compromised? Check out our previous post!

What to do When Your Identity Has Been Compromised: 4 Essential Steps

SAFESHRED is observing Identity Theft Protection  & Awareness month with tips and advice on our blog.  

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What are the steps you should take if you suspect you’re a victim of identity theft? The Federal Trade Commission recommends that you take these four important steps as soon as possible, and keep a record with the details of your conversations and copies of all correspondence.

1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports.

Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name. Contact the toll-free fraud number of any of the three consumer reporting companies below to place a fraud alert on your credit report.

TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013

 

2. Close the accounts that you believe have been compromised.

Call to speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each company. Follow up in writing, and include copies (NOT originals) of supporting documents. It’s important to notify credit card companies and banks in writing. Send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when. Keep a file of your correspondence and enclosures.

When you open new accounts, use new Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and passwords. Avoid using easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.

If the identity thief has made charges or debits on your accounts, or has fraudulently opened accounts, ask the company for the forms to dispute those transactions.

 

3. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

You can file a complaint with the FTC using their online complaint form; or call the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); TTY: 1-866-653-4261; or write Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580. Be sure to call the Hotline to update your complaint if you have any additional information or problems.

By sharing your identity theft complaint with the FTC, you will provide important information that can help law enforcement officials across the nation track down identity thieves and stop them. The FTC can refer victims’ complaints to other government agencies and companies for further action, as well as investigate companies for violations of laws the agency enforces.

 

4. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.

Call your local police department and tell them that you want to file a report about your identity theft.   Ask them if you can file the report in person. If you cannot, ask if you can file a report over the Internet or telephone If the police are reluctant to take your report, ask to file a “Miscellaneous Incident” report, or try another jurisdiction, like your state police. You also can check with your state Attorney General’s office to find out if state law requires the police to take reports for identity theft. Check the Blue Pages of your telephone directory for the phone number or check www.naag.org for a list of state Attorneys General.

For further information and to download important forms, visit the Federal Trade Commission website:
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/defend.html

 

December is Identity Theft Awareness and Prevention Month. Be sure to visit SAFESHRED often to learn more ways to protect yourself and your business.

 

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Identity theft is so pervasive in today’s society that the Federal Bureau of Investigation cites it as “America’s fastest growing crime problem.”  Thieves steal and fraudulently use the personal information of at least 10 million Americans a year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Informing yourself about how criminals can get your personal information is the best way to protect yourself from this all-too-common occurrence. Here are some of the ways thieves get your personal information:

  • Stealing or finding your wallet.
  • Digging through your trash.
  • Looking over your shoulder as you use an ATM.

Technology has exacerbated the identity theft problem. Finding out PIN numbers has gotten more widespread with the advent of fake card readers, or skimmers, installed at ATMs, credit card readers and gas station pumps. As ID thieves are becoming more sophisticated, your money grows more vulnerable. Other new ways criminals get your information include:

  • Gleaning the information of the deceased through reading obituaries.
  • Stealing or diverting mail.
  • Phishing: Websites impersonating legitimate companies collect customers’ personal data.

If you suspect your identity has been stolen, or to learn more about ways to protect yourself, visit the Federal Trade Commission website: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/defend.html

 

December is Identity Theft Awareness and Prevention Month. Be sure to visit SAFESHRED often to learn more ways to protect yourself and your business.

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identity theft awareness, identity theft prevention, identity fraud, id theft, holidays

SAFESHRED is observing Identity Theft Protection and Awareness month by posting blog articles to educate the public with tips and advice. Today’s post will get you started thinking about identity theft during the holiday season.

 

There’s a reason why December is Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month.  It’s the perfect time for identity thieves to prey on holiday shoppers.  Consumers are making more transactions than any other time of the year. Are you an easy target for the holidays?  Ask yourself these simple questions.

1.  Do you check your account balances frequently?

Keeping your receipts and checking every item on your account balances will ensure nobody else is using your cards.  Also using a credit card is preferable over your debit card, as canceling it will not directly affect your bank account.

2.   Do you dispose of confidential documents properly?

If you are throwing those receipts, invoices, and other confidential information in the trash, it’s time put those aside and think about letting a certified document shredding service dispose of those papers properly for you.

3.   Are you texting or on your cell phone while you’re checking out at the register?

Stay off your gadgets when checking out at a shop, and keep your eye on your credit cards at all times.

4.   Do you check security on ecommerce sites?

Checking the authenticity of security certificates on any website is not something the average user can do.  Shopping online with large, well-known websites is safer.

5.   Do you keep an eye on your purse or wallet at all times?

When wallets, driver’s licenses, and purses go missing, you can be pretty sure identity fraud will follow.

6.   Have you upgraded your home security recently?

Visit this link for some holiday home security tips. http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20447437,00.html

If you answered no to any of these questions, you may want to exercise a little more caution.  Identity theft is a serious crime that has the potential to put anyone in millions of dollars of debt, and has affected 11.6 Americans in 2011.  In order to exercise identity theft prevention, awareness is necessary first.  Be aware of identity theft and keep you and your loved ones safe!

 

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December is Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month!  We’ll be promoting awareness by posting several blogs articles about identity theft prevention throughout the month so stay tuned!

Here’s a sneak peek of some of the subjects we’ll cover:

– Identity Theft: How Does it Happen?
– Signs Your Identity Has Been Compromised
– What to do When Your Identity Has Been Compromised
– Top Things Not to Carry in Your Wallet
– Protecting Yourself From ID Theft During Holiday Travel

… and more!

We hope you’ll keep aware of identity theft and stay safe during December!

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