Tips For Keeping Your Sensitive Information Safe While Moving

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 16 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2012. If you've ever used your credit card to purchase Christmas gifts online or lost your check book on vacation, you know how frightening the idea of identity theft can be. This is why you take extra precautions, but chances are there is one vulnerable situation you've overlooked: moving. Don't be another victim of identity theft and instead, here are a few ways to protect your bank account and name while moving:

Keep an Eye on Your Important Documents

From your child's birth certificate to three-year-old bank records you haven't taken the time to throw out yet, chances are there are mountains of paperwork cluttering your closets and spare bedrooms. Now that you're moving, it's vital to dispose of, store and transport all your vital, sensitive documents and paperwork correctly.

For example, store any and all paperwork that contains you or a family member's social security number, date of birth or driver's license number in a lock box, safe or locked filing cabinet. Keep these documents near you at all times, including in the car on the ride over to your new home.

If you have a mound of paperwork, and aren't sure if it should be shredded or stored, Consumer Reports recommends following these simple guidelines:

  • Keep old bank records, credit card bills and insurance policies that you renew yearly – such as your homeowner's insurance or car insurance – for no longer than one year. These items should be shredded prior to disposal.

  • Store receipts for big ticket items – such as furniture and an HDTV – for as long as they're under warranty. If this time period has passed, shred these receipts.

  • Keep your federal and state tax records for seven years. Once your tax documents are past the seven year mark, put them through the shredder instead of tossing them into the garbage.

If you have loads of paperwork that should be shredded, and don't have the time or equipment to handle the job, there are professional paperwork and document disposal companies available.

Moving and Your Mail

One of the more tedious aspects of moving is dealing with your mail, and just because you fill out all the correct paperwork doesn't mean you'll get your birthday cards and mortgage bill at your new address.

This is why it's vital to contact your employer, any financial institution that handles your loans, your insurance company and any other companies that send you bills and mail on a monthly basis yourself. Let them know you're moving and make sure they have your new address on file.

Once you've moved into your new home, keep an eye on the mailbox and if you don't receive any bills or other papers as expected, don't be afraid to visit your old home or apartment to see if they were inadvertently sent there. However unlikely, the new owner of your old home or tenant of your last apartment could misuse any sensitive information found in your mail.

Know Who You're Hiring

The majority of licensed, professional moving and storage companies, like Walsh Moving & Storage, will handle everything in your home, from a sofa to your computer, with amazing care. This is why it's vital to do your research before hiring a moving company, which includes thinking twice about trusting your sensitive information with a group of college kids you found on the internet.

If you're not sure how to begin researching moving companies, start by asking for references from friends or family members, or read online reviews provided by former customers.

Keeping your identity safe during a move might be the last thing on your mind, but it's important to take a few extra precautions. Make sure you know who you're hiring, keep your sensitive documents safe and, when in doubt, buy a bigger paper shredder!