Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Guard your Identity and your Trash Can

Did you know that your trash often leaves clues as to what treasures exist in your home? In fact, your trash can is a treasure trove of information about your identity. Our trash cans very often contain our personal information on various documents that we discard casually. Outdated documents and unwanted junk mail are often carelessly tossed into the trash. The personal information available in these items is exactly what an identity criminal is after when he searches your trash.

Identity theft occurs when your personal information is stolen without your knowledge and is then used to commit fraud and other crimes. Any item that contains just your name is a starting point for even an unsophisticated thief to steal your identity. An identity criminal can create a blueprint of your life from documents in your trash. Return addresses on envelopes may reveal where you bank, who maintains your mortgage, where your investments are held and much more.

An Identity thief can strike gold in your trash can. The variety of documents that can be found in garbage cans include expired credit cards or debit cards, credit card receipts, unused credit card checks, credit card statements, Pre-approved credit card offers, bank account statements, canceled checks, pension account statements, phone and utility bills, tax returns and statements, insurance claim or insurance policy information, expired identification documents like driver’s licenses and passports. These kind of documents that supply personal information can cause you harm if they fall into the wrong hands. ? All these items tell a thief about your current financial standing.  Trash items like gift and packing boxes can reveal what items you have in the house that is valuable.

When a thief has collected several months of billing data, he can contact you pretending to be a company representative. He may use the billing information to prove his credibility and gain more personal data from you. Contact your service provider directly if someone claiming to be a company representative requests information. Do not provide any information to anyone over the phone until you verify that the person you spoke with was legitimate.

The key to preventing identity theft is to stay one step ahead of the thief. It is important to protect your belongings, even if you don't think thieves will target them. Don’t toss out your identity to a waiting thief. Secure trash bins at all times, until they are placed for pickup and collected. Shred financial documents, any unused credit card offers that come in the mail and paperwork with personal information before you discard them.  Invest in a good quality shredder that cross-cuts the paper into smaller bits. Cheaper shredders only shred documents in one direction. , An industrious thief can put them back together like a jigsaw puzzle. Deter identity thieves by safeguarding your information.

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