How to protect your paper documents?

Protéger les documents papier

I already said it; a good part of our information still is on paper. A media sensitive to humidity and fire… like the electronic media.

Today, again, your identity and your personal identifiable information are at stake on a media everyone easily can access and read. A media we to easily throw in the paper bin.

I of course only address here ‘useful’ documents to those who want to harm you or to steal your identity because they content:

  • a name,
  • an address (it’s even more interesting with a list of successive addresses),
  • a client number and one (or more) invoices for telephony, electricity, gas, water – mainly the annual summary,
  • a bunch of abstract of bank account.

Management

Archiving

Stay informed on the legal requirements applicable in your country for keeping documents such as invoices, bank account abstracts, elements necessary for the tax return and other evidences useful for your social rights and retirement.

The delays vary from 1 to 20 years. You should then order the documents to easily access them when needed.

Your ordering can be abstruse, but the best is to put sensitive documents behind closed doors: a metallic chest or a small safe you’ve effectively settled to the wall.

However, it’s not what burglars will first look for.

Transport and communication

Keep the documents in an opaque folder.

Communicate these documents only to these who need them.

End of life

It’s not because they date and you don’t need them anymore that the documents have lost their value! Unfortunately.

Of course some data are no more up to date, but what is useful to those who want to steal your identity is still valid.

One can easily use this as a proof of identity when signalling to the police the loss or theft of your identity card (or drivers’ licence). Whit the certificate the police gives you, just go to the good bank (but another office) and let close the account, block the bank cards and open or order new ones. They rarely verify your face.

Destruction

How can we evacuate old documents? Not in the paper bin, especially if your municipality has imposed the selective sorting. Picking up one of the boxes of your neighbour before the official service comes to take it away isn’t difficult; and you have all your time to search what could be useful! After that, no problem to throw that in your own trash basket.

2 easy ways:

  • Water: plunge the documents several hours in water and let it become ‘papier-mâché’. What you do afterwards is your business…
    Effective and economic, but potentially dirty.
  • Shredder: what it produces isn’t the issue – strips (maximum 4mm wide), cross-cuts chips (4 x 30 mm), confetti, dust – the most paranoids put that in water of fire…
    Mixed up strips go to the paper bin;
    Chips are useful to protect fragile items while moving them due to their volume;
    Confetti are indispensable for feast;
    Dust goes to the compost or is spread by the wind.
    it’s a bit more expensive, but for the equivalent of 50 euro you already gets something good; don’t miss it. It’s fast and very effective. Your return on investment will come fast.

Hence, for these documents, order, store, manipulate out of sight of indiscrete eyes and destroy them!

Nothing new under the sun… as you already do it with your electronic documents.

 

Do you still have questions or doubts? Don’t hesitate to ask; I’d be happy to help you. After that, it’s the very goal of this blog.

See you soon, safer with your information

Jean-Luc

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