Shred your important documents to protect yourself from identity theft

Bank statements, personal bills, blank checks, tax records, insurance information -- even medical records. They're all documents you should be shredding on a regular basis.

Even in our digital world, shredding your important documents is still one of the best ways to protect yourself from thieves trying to steal your identity.

Recent government statistics show that more than 8 million households fell victim to identity theft in 2010 -- and it cost them $13.3 billion in direct financial losses.

If a thief finds just one vital piece of information about you -- like your social security number or your bank account number -- they can use it apply for credit cards, loans, cell phones, and to buy just about anything.

So, protect yourself. By law, businesses have to properly dispose of their consumer's information.

But, in today's digital world, shredding should be just part of your protection plan. and MSN Money report that stealing documents out of your trash is a declining crime -- and protecting yourself online is growing necessity.

That means you need to monitor your bank statements, use secure wireless networks at home and on your phone, and install security software on your computer.

You can also go paperless for lots of your financial documents now, so you won't have very many paper documents to shred.

But, any documents that do come in the mail that contain any personal or financial information about you, need to be shredded. It could save you a lot, in the long run.

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