Shredding! How frustrating it can be. My shredder and I have a love hate relationship. If I put too much into it, it jams. If I don’t use it enough I’ll compromise my identity. This weekend, you can ditch your tiny at home shredder for the giant mobile shredder that will destroy boxes of documents in seconds.

Shredding is my number one tip to protect your identity.

Attend free shredding event

Check with your community Better Business Bureau, city hall, or police department for a free shredding event. They are typically held in the spring and fall.

Check your credit report

Second, check your credit report. You can check it once a year for free at Annual Credit Report. It’s the only truly free site. Don’t fall for imposters. You’ll be asked for personal information like your social security number, previous addresses, and asked to verify information like the last place you banked. While it seems like an intrusion of privacy, you’re asked all this information to verify you are who you say you are.

While the site advertises that you can check your report once a year for free, you can really keep tabs on your credit year round. There are three credit reporting agencies available through Annual Credit Report. Check one every four months. That way you can keep tabs on your credit year round. Just make sure you access the report every four months through Annual Credit Report.

There are 10 other consumer reports that are also kept on you including your insurance and rental history. It’s also a good idea to check these once a year.

Reduce junk mail

Third, opt out of pre-approved offers for credit and insurance. Call 1-888-5-OPTOUT.  or opt out online.  When you opt out online, the opt out will last for five years.   If you want to permanently opt out, you need to mail in a form that you can find online on the website above.   If you opt out, and want to opt back in so you can get competitive credit or insurance offers you can opt back in online.

You will have to give your social security number because your social is linked to your credit score.  Someone asked me a few weeks ago why the service can’t just use your address. While it seems like it would work, addresses change so often it would be hard to guarantee the opt out for several years, and it’s not your address but your social that definitively links you to the pre-approved credit offers.

You also need to reduce junk mail from direct marketing lists like catalogs, magazines, etc. by signing up for the DMA Choice Mail Preference Service. You can enroll online or by mail. The mail option will cost $1.

Then, sit back and wait. Within six to eight weeks, you should begin to notice less mail.   DMA can take ninety days to take effect.

After three months have passed, begin saving any junk mail that’s slipping through the cracks. If it really bothers you, call that company and request that your name be removed from their mailing list. In not time, you’ll have no junk mail.