Protecting Your Personal Information

By: Kevin Karnes

Every day, you do something to protect yourself.

You lock your door at night. You look both ways before crossing the street or pulling out into traffic.

But when you think of safety and security, do you think about ways to protect your personal or financial information? Keeping this kind of information safe is extremely important.

Identity theft is a common problem and occurs when someone uses your personal or financial information without your permission. Thieves can gather this kind of information in many ways – including through the trash, which is why it’s so important to properly dispose of documents that contain information like your home address, social security number, birthday, banking and credit card numbers, or anything else identifiable on it.

Unfortunately, identity theft continues to rise.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, at least 1 in 5 people have fallen victim to identity theft in their lifetime.

As Lee County’s official record keeper, the Clerk’s office goes to great lengths to ensure personal information is protected in your public records and we want to help you do everything you can to keep your confidential information at home safe.

My office has hosted two free shredding events in the last six months to help community members keep their private information secure. In total, we shredded more than 13,700 pounds of confidential documents at those events, which we called The Big Shred. We plan on making The Big Shred a semi-annual event, with the next stop in Lehigh Acres this fall. (We’ll announce more details on the next Big Shred as we get closer to the date. To be the first to know about future events, sign up for our newsletter at

If you weren’t able to make it to one of our previous events, there are other ways you can protect yourself.

I highly recommend purchasing a small home shredder if you’re able and shredding all documents that contain your personal information. Also, the Federal Trade Commission recommends reviewing your bank and credit card statements carefully and often. Review your credit reports at least once a year. Know your payment due dates and if a bill doesn’t show up when it’s supposed to – call the company and inquire.

In addition to protecting your personal information, I always recommend safeguarding your home or property with our free Property Fraud Alert service, which will notify you within 24 hours if someone tries to file a deed in your name. You can sign up at

Please do everything you can to protect yourself and your family from identity theft and fraud.

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