Surprising Identity Theft Risk at Charities
Most of us wouldn’t associate donating items to charities like Goodwill and Salvation Army to identity theft. But as some residents in Indiana found out… that’s just what happened. Sensitive documents like loan documents, divorce decrees and other paperwork containing social security numbers ended up for sale in discount donation bins! This post provides insight as to why it’s important to shred before donating can save you headaches and money.
Sadly some of the victims weren’t the ones who donated items. Their information was most likely brought home in someone’s briefcase and forgotten in donated furniture (e.g., old desks and dressers). In an expose by an Indiana TV station, weak privacy policies were brought to light. Thankfully, as a follow-up to this news story, more stringent, nationwide policies have been implemented.
Even so, mistakes can be made when packing up donations. Here are three tips to help make sure your sensitive information doesn’t inadvertently find its way to your local charity.
1. Dedicate Boxes
If you are working on a de-cluttering project, you are most likely going through a lot of stuff. Create boxes that are dedicated to these categories and mark them accordingly:
By having well-marked boxes, you can reduce the chance of sensitive paperwork getting tossed into the wrong place.
2. Triple Check Before Dropping Off Donations
Even if you have marked your boxes well, someone may have dropped an item in the wrong place. This is the time to be paranoid. Double- and triple-check your boxes, furniture, clothing pockets for anything you wouldn’t want to end up on the bargain table at your favorite charity. If you do find items with personally identifiable information, shred before donating is a must. Don’t rely on a charity from properly disposing it.
3. Use Onsite Professionals to Shred Before Donating
We suggest hiring a reputable and professional shredding company that comes to your home or business. Why?
- It eliminates the hassle-factor of shredding lots of documents. Our shredding trucks can shred in seconds what would take you hours with a typical non-commercial shredder.
- It offers peace of mind. Sensitive documents don’t leave your home or office without being thoroughly and properly shredded.
- It’s good for the environment. All shredded materials are recycled so they don’t end up in garbage landfills.
Now that the holiday season is upon us, you’re probably looking around the house for items you can donate… for the year-end tax deduction and to help those less fortunate. Be careful before you donate. And put a one-time shredding purge on your holiday to-do list.