Most homeowners are not aware that they have become the victim of identity theft until their credit is already ruined, and in many cases, they are completely unaware that something as simple as tossing out their old bills and junk mail was the cause. Every year, people throw away thousands of pounds of junk mail, credit card offers, unpaid bill reminders, and other sensitive documents that can give thieves an edge when it comes to obtaining private information. Once criminals have this information, they can destroy an individual’s credit in the space of weeks, causing far-reaching effects that can wreak havoc in a large number of ways.
While many homeowners don’t think twice about their junk mail, it can be an open door for those who make a habit of going through people’s trash in order to find credit card information and other personal information. The Washington State Office of the Attorney General’s recommends that the best way to keep this from happening is to invest in a paper shredder.
Dumpster diving,” or rifling through trash cans for personal information, is a tactic used by identity thieves. You are taking a terrible risk if you don’t shred sensitive material. Invest in a shredder for your home or office, preferably one that “cross cuts” (slices in two directions), and destroy all sensitive information including bank and credit card statements you no longer need, carbon-copy charge receipts with your account information, insurance forms, physician bills, etc. If your shredder can’t handle plastic, use scissors to cut up expired credit and identification cards before discarding them.”
By completely destroying these items, homeowners can vastly decrease the chances of their identity being stolen.
One of the most common ways for a homeowner’s identity to be stolen or for his or her credit to be ruined is when thieves get their hands on pre-approved credit card offers that are discarded without being opened. Most of these offers include an application that anyone can fill out with a minimum of information. Once the criminal fills out the form, they can open a line of credit without the homeowner being aware until they start receiving bills. While some of these charges can be dismissed, repairing the damaged credit score can be much more difficult. Homeowners can protect themselves by shredding all of their junk mail and credit card receipts before they discard them.
Author & Pubic Relations – Steven is a fifteen year executive veteran of the home security industry and is now in charge of the site’s content. Steven is responsible for all the content created and also plays a critical role in our public relations department.