The Hazards of Too Much Paper
Paper may seem innocuous. It arrives in our homes daily in the form of mail, magazines and newpapers, and it piles up often in a haphazard manner. We usually don’t give it too much thought. But for many people, especially seniors, paper can lead to identity theft and fraud.
Best practices for managing paper include shredding all documents that contain personal information. It is recommended that documents be shredded, because thieves have gone so far as to steal garbage to obtain innocent victims’ personal financial information.
So, if you are receiving monthly bills in the mail, they should be shredded after paying them. Documents that are necessary for tax purposes should be maintained for a period of time specified by your accountant. However, such documents should be kept in a locked, waterproof, fireproof filing cabinet so they can only be accessed by authorized parties.
Last February, the New York Times published an article about a scam artist who was able to steal many tens of thousands of dollars from a victim, simply by stealing a check that the victim had placed in the mailbox. Once the criminal stole the check, he was able to empty significant amounts of funds from the victim’s account, because he had the bank’s routing number and the account number. This incident highlights another opportunity for criminal activity based on unsecured documents: mail theft. If you or a loved one are not using online bill paying, consider mailing checks in a secure mailbox rather than your personal mailbox.
So, in summary, shred all documents containing personal information as soon as practicable. If you cannot use online bill paying, only send checks through a U.S. Post office mailbox. If you need assistance with bill paying, consider using SilverBills. SilverBills receives, scrutinizes and ensures that your bills are paid accurately and on-time. You no longer need to open envelopes, write checks or remember deadlines. Once enrolled with SilverBills, you will receive a lot less paper in the mail and that will decrease the potential for theft and fraud.
Marci Lobel-Esrig founded SilverBills after witnessing the challenges faced by her elderly relative paying bills on time and correctly. As an accomplished attorney adept at solving complex issues, Marci has led the team at SilverBills which successfully developed a technology solution to the problem of paying bills accurately.
Marci has been a practicing attorney for more than 20 years. For approximately 8 years until 2015, she was an in-house attorney for a well-known real estate investment company. Prior to her in-house position, she was an Associate at a major New York firm as well as a boutique land use and zoning firm. Marci received her J.D. from New York University School of Law and her B.A. degree Magna Cum Laude from Columbia College, Columbia University where she was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa.