Spring forward with a clean – and secure – home office
(ARA) – As winter weather moves on, the urge to clean, unpack, unclutter, dust and polish moves in. This desire to freshen up our lives and sweep away the winter chills signals that spring cleaning season is officially here.
When creating a spring cleaning to-do list, it’s important to remember the home office. An organized and clutter-free home office helps you stay more productive and protects you from one of the country’s fastest growing crimes – identity theft. In fact, this costly crime affected 11.1 million adults in 2009, an increase of 12 percent from the previous year, according to Javelin Strategy and Research.
From tax documents to medical bills and store receipts, the home office is filled with confidential information that can lead to identity theft. And while it’s easy to think that identity thieves only prey on electronic data, criminals are notorious for sifting through garbage in search of confidential paper documents to steal. By making shredding a part of your spring cleaning exercises, you can help ensure that your confidential paper documents don’t fall into the wrong hands.
“Identity theft is a scary and evolving crime. In 2011, thieves will get savvier through new theft techniques, such as organized crime rings that sell stolen information,” says Jay Foley, executive director of the Identity Theft Resource Center. “Proactive measures are key. It’s important to take control of your sensitive data by using smart practices during spring cleaning time and throughout the year.”
The Identity Theft Resource Center recommends their top five tips for spring cleaning the home office:
1. Begin with the basics: Sort through the piles of paperwork on your desk and in your office drawers. Place them into two categories: “save” and “shred.”
2. Proper storage: Organize the “save” pile into labeled folders and be sure to put anything confidential into a fire-proof lock box. The “shred” pile should be properly disposed of with a Cross-Cut shredder, such as a Fellowes P-12C. Cross-Cut technology is an important feature for a shredder because it provides high security, destroying confidential information into unidentifiable pieces. Equally important are enhanced safety features, such as Fellowes’ SafeSense technology, which shuts the machine down when hands come too close to the paper opening.
3. Get a digital makeover: Refresh your home office computer by deleting files you no longer use and backing up important data onto an external hard drive. Clean out your inbox and change all passwords. Refreshing your computer is a good practice to follow throughout the year as well.
4. Make life easier: Plan ahead by purchasing organizational tools for your desk, such as computer risers or file folder holders. This will help clear clutter from your desk top while keeping things within arms reach.
5. Freshen up: Get rid of dust and germs that easily build up on office equipment such as keyboards, telephones and cabinets. You’ll feel instantly more productive with a clean workspace.
For more information about identity theft prevention, visit www.IDTheftCenter.org, or for more information about Fellowes products and paper shredders, visit www.Fellowes.com.