Have you been asked by merchants and financial institutions whether you’d like to receive your statements and bills by email? It seems to be a common question lately and one of the greatest benefits to going paperless is often not mentioned. Of course, one of the biggest highlights to going paperless is the environmental impact. We can save trees by not requiring so many things to be physically printed and mailed. However, have you thought about the impact that going paperless could have on the safety of your information?
Bills and financial statements can contain sensitive information regarding our accounts, and we’re trusting our information to the mail system and even to our community as they sit in our mailboxes until we get home to check the mail. This information could get lost or stolen by an identity thief. While going the paperless route is not for everyone, if you do opt in to e-statements and e-bills, be sure to keep an eye on your email so you don’t miss receiving these important documents. If you prefer to receive your documents by mail, consider using a locking mailbox or P.O. box to keep your documents secure until you’re able to retrieve them. When mailing out documents, the safest option is placing outgoing mail directly into a postal mailbox. Also, be aware that not receiving your emailed or mailed statements could be a red flag that a thief has gained access to your account and changed the mailing or email address. Be sure to check with your financial institution or merchant immediately if you haven’t received your statement or bill.
As a side note regarding mail, many of us receive pre-screened offers in the mail quite frequently and these offers can have convenience checks attached to them. Before tossing these in the trash, be sure to destroy them! A thief could steal these and use them to access your credit and identity. The safest option, if you choose to do so, is to opt out of prescreened offers by phone or email. You can call 888-5-OPTOUT or go to optoutprescreen.com where you’ll have the option to opt out for five years or permanently.
Source: Identity Theft – Protect Yourself, Know What to Do by Positive Promotions