You can’t be too neurotic about shredding sensitive documents to smithereens. For example, some people make a career out of “dumpster diving,” digging through trash in search of bank account information, credit card preapprovals, medical bills, mortgage statements, etc., and then they commit fraud, including creating new accounts with the found information—accounts in the victim’s name.
Diving for Dollars
- Dumpster diving is legal if the trash can is in a public spot including the big trash bin at your apartment complex.
- Dumpster divers aren’t necessarily homeless men dressed in rags looking for discarded food. They may be professional identity thieves, and if they’re extra smart, they’ll dress like a vagrant to fool people into thinking they’re looking for food scraps.
- Your trash can is a goldmine for an identity thief; think of what’s on all the paperwork you toss out, week after week—all sorts of tidbits about your life, from your favorite stores to your kids’ names.
- A lot of personal details about you come simply from empty envelopes with their return addresses.
- Buy a shredder. There are different kinds that shred at differing dimensions as well as various strengths (some shredders will slice and dice CDs).
- Don’t buy a “strip-cut” type, as the shreds could be reconstructed. The “micro-cut” shreds at the smallest dimensions.
- Believe it or not, there are crooks who will take the time to put back together a shredded document, including with the help of Unshredder, a computer program.
- Keep a cardboard box handy that you continually fill up with shreddables.
- Just toss documents that are on deck for burning into this box as you go throughout the day. Then incinerate the box.
- A large stack of documents will not completely burn, so don’t place these in a motley arrangement so they aren’t “thick”.
- Don’t leave boxes that contained expensive merchandise in plain view at your curb; this is almost the equivalent of sticking a sign there with bright red letters stating: “I just purchased a giant flat screen TV; come on in and steal it.” Destroy/shred
Ask yourself this question: If someone “stole” your trash, would that be a problem? If you say yes, then you toss too much data. For me, I don’t care, nothing I toss is of any value to anyone.
Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.
ROBERT SICILIANO, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com is fiercely committed to informing, educating, and empowering Americans so they can be protected from violence and crime in the physical and virtual worlds. His "tell it like it is" style is sought after by major media outlets, executives in the C-Suite of leading corporations, meeting planners, and community leaders to get the straight talk they need to stay safe in a world in which physical and virtual crime is commonplace. Siciliano is accessible, real, professional, and ready to weigh in and comment at a moment's notice on breaking news.
- 6 Shredding Tips To Prevent Identity Theft
Shredding is fun! Repeat that 10 times and you just might start believing it. Certainly shredding is a tad bit of work, but that’s what kids and interns are for! Shredding might be inconvenient, but it’s absolutely necessary—and it’s fundamental to protecting your identity and the identities of those who have entrusted you with their data.
- Top 10 Identity Theft Scams
There are no shortage of ways identity thieves have to scam you out of your credit, cash and identity. Here are 10 more ways criminals pounce on their victims: Mailbox raiding. Moments after the postal carrier drops off your mail, a crackhead comes by and steals it. Dumpster diving. You know that mortgage company that you did
- Identity Theft Myths Part 2of3 During PYIW
Identity Theft Expert Robert Siciliano The National Foundation for Credit Counselors, which sponsors Protect Your Identity Week, has compiled a number of identity theft myths. To support their efforts, the Santa Fe Group Vendor Council Awareness and Education Subcommittee has helped to clarify some common misinformation with regards to this increasingly common crime. We’ve already discussed
- Most Unwanted Criminals: Dumpster Divers, Sly Spies, and War Drivers
There is no shortage of bad guys, identity thieves, and hackers trying to separate you from your money. They range from previously discussed pickpockets, Trojan viruses, and ATM skimmers to dumpster divers, spies, and wireless hackers. Dumpster Diver Dan is a liar who poses as a garbage man and turns trash into cash. Dan dives into
- Medical Identity Theft Can be Deadly
If you feel like you are starting to get the flu, going to the doctor’s office can get you some medicine and get you on the road to recovery. But, there’s no pill or surgery that can protect you from medical identity theft—which can kill you. Literally. The thief who steals your identity doesn’t mean