Are You at Risk of Identity Theft? The surprisingly easy way criminals could get your information you may not even realize.
We’ve all heard that “one man’s trash, is another man’s treasure”, but did you ever think that what you’re throwing away could be the jackpot for criminals to steal your identity? If you are like most people, you are extra cautious about the things you do while online for fear of cyber criminals, but did you ever think to safeguard your garbage?
One Man’s Trash
You probably don’t think twice about the things you throw away every day, but there could be a treasure trove of information sitting at the end of your driveway each week. Things like shopping receipts from the grocery store, letters from various service providers, account summaries or offers from credit card companies, old check statements, and much more provide a wealth of information such as your name, address, account numbers, and possibly even your signature. Approximately 15 million Americans have their identity stolen every year, but just how easy is it?
One Man’s Treasure
Something as common as a credit card offer could be a phone call away from being activated and the thief would enjoy a spending spree on your dime. It could be a few summaries from your internet provider that would allow them to call you posing as an employee at the company saying your last payment was never received and that your service would be shut off or you would get an additional late charge unless you pay the amount over the phone. You might think you would be able to tell if the person were a fake, but with specific information about your past payments and account numbers, the ruse becomes very believable and you might be willing to give them a credit card or checking account number, which would leave you trying to get your money back and clean up the mess while the crook is long gone.
Guarding Your Garbage
Now that you know how easy it could be for someone to take over, you’re probably wondering how you can guarantee it doesn’t happen to you. The best advice is to shred anything that has your personal information on it. A good shredder will cross-shred your documents, making it nearly impossible to piece together, but at the very least, give these types of letters a good hand ripping, avoiding simple large pieces, before throwing them into the trash. A furnace, fire pit, or wood burning stove can ensure complete destruction of your sensitive information. It is a good idea to NEVER throw any letter away without opening it first; you may not know how much of your information is contained inside. Another defense is to keep your trash cans near your home until pickup day to deter crooks from taking a look. Anything that makes it difficult for a criminal will likely have them moving to an easier target.
While most people think to watch their information closely when online, it can become routine to just toss junk mail into the trash without thinking of the possible danger, but this can leave your valuable information in the hands of thieves. Take the precaution to protect yourself from identity theft, as well as any other dangers you may not see coming. If you would like to discuss your current insurance coverage needs or get a free quote, call us at 724-929-2300 to speak with our professional staff today.