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Don't Let Your Trash Tell Your Secrets! How To Remove Prescription Labels And Protect Your Privacy

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If you're a senior citizen living alone, you probably use a paper shredder to keep your personal information out of the wrong hands. What about the information you can't easily shred? The prescription drug bottles in your trash can be more revealing than you think.

With the information on a prescription label — your name, your doctor's name, and the name of your pharmacy — a scam artist can impersonate someone from the clinic to get even more personal data from you. It may put you at risk for medical identity theft. Depending on the drug, a label can make your home a target for burglars.

Here are some ways to remove or deface the labels that identify your prescription drugs.

Brute force

Remove the surface of the label by scraping with a copper scrubber. This is messy but effective. Simply hold the bottle over a trash can and rub the print off.

Scrape the label off with a razor blade. This requires a steady hand. Use a blade in a holder designed for scraping glass or ceramic stovetops. Place the capped bottle on its side and hold it by the top and bottom so that your fingers won't be in the path of the razor blade. Carefully use the blade to scrape at the edge of the label. Once the label is removed, shred it or tear it into small pieces.

Chemical warfare

Solvents such as nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol dissolve most glues. Use a cotton ball to apply a generous amount, and then let the bottle sit for several minutes to allow the solvent to soak through the paper.

Oils break up many adhesives. Commercial products containing citrus oil are very effective. Other options are cooking oil, WD-40, and even the oil you use to keep your paper shredder in good condition. Just be sure to allow enough time for the oil to get through the label and destroy the glue.

Heat treatment

Use a hair dryer. Set the dryer to high heat and move it across the surface of the label. The glue should soften after a few minutes.

Soak the bottle in hot water. You can do this in the sink, in a bowl in the microwave, or in a bowl of boiling water on the counter. Don't try to heat the bottle in a pan of water on the stove — this can cause the plastic to melt if you step away for a moment. Soak for five minutes, and then pour out the water. Scrape the label off with a fingernail or table knife.

Find more info on safe disposal of drug bottles by speaking with a trash removal company.