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Worried about identity theft? Don’t forget about this old-school tactic…

SEATTLE -- The April 18th tax deadline is right around the corner, and that means you probably have a lot of files laying around with sensitive information. You're going to want to get rid of those documents in a safe and secure way.

A recent survey from PEMCO Insurance shows that even though we're getting more vigilant about protecting our online information, we're starting to forget about paper. Eight-six percent of people said they're somewhat worried about their identity stolen. That includes 60 percent of people who worried about their mail, but only 56 percent of people used locking mail boxes. The percentage of people who own paper shredders has dropped by 18 percent in the past two years.

Q13 asked the folks at PEMCO, what do we need to worry about? And what kinds of documents do we need to shred?

"The information you should be shredding is anything that has your name or has an account number on it," Craig Kehrberg, a senior product analyst explained. "This time of year it's important with tax documents to make sure they're shredded also."

Be sure to shred:

  • W2's from tax season
  • Pay stubs
  • Utility bills
  • Pre-approved credit card offers
  • Bank statements
  • IRS forms

Just keep in mind not all shredders are the same. There are cross-cut and strip shredders. The cross-cut is the more secure option. Kehrberg said it may be surprising, but people can actually piece together shredded pieces to get your information.

And when it comes to just ripping up your mail the old fashioned way? Kehrberg said that's better than doing nothing.

"Ripping it up is better than throwing it in the trash as a whole," Kehrberg said, "but shredding the document with a cross cut shredder is the most secure way to do that."