To protect financial identity and your finances, shred Credit card...

To protect financial identity and your finances, shred Credit card receipts, bank and medical statements, everyday bills and preapproved credit card offers, says a tips sheet from Rethinkingdebt. (September 2009) Credit: Handout

Shredding documents may not be high on the  lists of fun  activities. Still, it's one of a number of approaches to help keep you from joining the increasing number of identity theft victims.

It may be quite a leap for consumers who grew up in more trusting times to find they can't just toss all their paperwork into the trash anymore, says Lynette Baker, director of marketing at Rethinking debt.org, a credit counseling agency with a Hauppauge office.

What to shred. Credit card receipts, bank and medical statements, everyday bills and preapproved credit card offers, says a tips sheet from Rethinkingdebt.org. Add to that your pay stubs, investment statements, tax-related documents, and anything with your birth date or Social Security number.

Shredders. This may be the new "must-have" appliance. Find suggestions for selecting paper shredders on Consumer reports.org, which says the most effective models are those that crosscut documents, turning them into small confettilike pieces. Also, consider one that chews up credit cards and computer discs, if that's where you store tax data. And, good news: Now through tax season is the time retailers tend to put shredders on sale.

Options. Some community organizations sponsor shredding days, when people can bring bags of documents to toss into a shredding truck. Another thought, says Baker. Many employers pay to have their own sensitive data shredded, and perhaps, occasionally, employees could be invited to empty their documents into the truck as well.

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