Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Identity Theft

Wow, I cannot believe it's been a month since I last posted. That's what tax time will do to you! I am glad to be done with the prep of the dreaded April 15th deadline.

I typically don't tout products on my blog, but I came across two that I wanted to share -- because I am so impressed. And, they have both made my life easier -- which is key when you run a business and are helping to "parent" two parents.

Have you ever had your identity stolen? Well, I have, and it was shortly before the Internet even began to take off! I was not careless or putting my social security number out there where it did not belong, yet some gentleman (that's putting it nicely!) stole my number from a local bank and began opening accounts with it and writing bad checks. Luckily by the grace of God, a banker came upon it by accident one day, and I was able to work with the authorities to get it rectified. And, they caught him.

But, needless to say, I am super cautious (to an extreme) now about everything I do with my personal information.

While I am an aggressive marketer, I still hate getting junk mail. And, I am getting the double whammy of fun receiving the junk mail of my parents as well.

The credit card solicitations especially make my skin crawl. The paper waste from the big, thick catalogs I never even wanted makes me cringe -- especially when they are so large they bust my mailbox. The donation solicitations from the cancer societies and Alzheimer groups make me think that our local hospitals have been sharing my family's protected information with them (it's just too coincidental). Whoever works in my office has had the lovely duty of doing all the shredding of these many annoying items. We have burned through more than two shredding machines.

I came across something called an "ID Guard Stamp". It's a self-stamper that stamps a huge, black, blocky bar code. I can quickly stamp my address on catalogs and postcards, etc. that I don't want, and no one can read my personal information. They just go straight to the trash. It's available on Amazon dot com via a company called Plus Corporation for less than $25. It's been a life-saver and has cut my shredding time by 75%.

I also signed up with Stop and Shred at my business(they are a national franchise). I use this for larger, more comprehensive solicitation packages I get that I don't even care to open as well as on the pre-approved blank checks from credit card companies. They delivered a tall, plastic, heavy-duty trash can with a lock to my office. Once I fill it they come get it for $50. No other charges. No hassles. It will literally take me almost a year to fill it up. And, they are certified.

These two things are great enough to write about!