Archive for March, 2014

Recycling Electronics vs. Shredding: What’s the Risk?

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

These days, reuse, reduce, recycle is no longer a motto but a way of life. You could search online for ways to upcycle just about anything from grocery store bags to mismatched socks to your outdated electronics. Finding a place to recycle your items is as easy as ever; drop your old cell phone off in the receptacle at Target, bring old computers to your community recycling day. Convenience is a way of life and everything is disposable. But, with this new, more convenient way of living comes more inconveniences. No more pressing a delete button and erasing a file. Emails, texts, and electronic information seem to live on forever, impossible to destroy. So, what exactly happens when you recycle your electronics? Does your stored personal information get erased from the device? We would like to trust that it does. But, this new study out of NAID Australia sheds new light on the idea.

NAID, The National Association for Information Destruction performed an audit of 52 independently purchased hard drives from online sites such as Ebay. What they found might shock you and make you reconsider how your dispose of your own electronics data.

The 52 hard drives were examined by forensic investigators and about 30 percent still contained personal and/or confidential information. Some of the information found was highly confidential. It appeared that the information had been attempted to be deleted but was done so unsuccessfully.

It is a wonderful idea to recycle your electronics; however, there is a very real risk that your personal information may live on if the device is not properly wiped.

Check out the whole study here

Medical Identity Theft Costs Industry 56Billion a Year: A Threat that Could Literally Kill You

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Your medical records are your personal business. You expect your records to be shared with your doctors and medical providers, right? It certainly is scary to think about data breaches and what that means if your medical records and information is compromised. Check out this article to find out the best and simplest way to ensure your medical information is kept safe and accurate.
Check out the full article here

How Long Should You Save Your Documents? What to Shred and When.

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Most people, when asked, say they save their documents and files for seven years. This time frame is a good rule of thumb. But, where on earth can one store SEVEN years worth of documents? Between bills, tax documents, pay stubs, medical records, credit card statements, and other personal information that’s a lot of paper to file and retain for SEVEN whole years. So, when is it safe to shred?

Here is a good guide to follow.

How Long to Keep Documents

Tax documents: Keep tax returns, as well as supporting documents like W-2 forms, receipts, and real estate closing statements for seven years. The IRS may audit you within three years if it suspects good-faith errors; six years if it believes you underreported your income by at least 25%; and unlimited time if you did not file a return or filed a fraudulent one.

Investment Records: Keep as long as you own the securities, plus another seven years. You’ll need them to prove capital gains and losses.
Bank Statements – One month. You just need these long enough to check the accuracy of the transactions. Unless the statement is your only record for a tax-related transaction, there’s no need to keep them longer. Plus, your bank will have them available online.
Retirement Plan Statements –Most, one year, for tax purposes. Keep Roth IRA statements until you retire, to prove you already paid tax on your contributions.
Credit card statements Shred immediately after checking the accuracy of the transactions. These documents are a prime source for identity theft. Unless the statement is your only record for a tax-related transaction, there’s no need to keep them longer. Plus, your issuer will have them available online.
Paychecks – One year, until you receive your W-2.
Bills – One year, for tax purposes.
W-2 Forms – Until you begin claiming Social Security. They’re the best estimate of your earnings and entitlements.

When it comes time to shred, make sure to find a reputable company, one that has good reviews and uses industrial shredders to ensure safe shredding of your personal documents. Home shredders usually only shred papers into strips, making it easy for motivated thief’s to reconstruct the documents.

Check out the source here