When it comes to identity theft, one man’s trash is a criminal’s treasure.
In fact, dumpster diving can be an extremely profitable technique for crimnals in search of new victims. As identity thieves know, there is no shortage of valuable information just waiting to be discovered in the trash.
Dumpster diving: Fraud prevention tips
Here are some tips you can follow to help prevent identity thieves from finding your personal information and using it for their own gain:
- Shred any document that contains your Social Security number or driver’s license number.
- Shred old bank statements and anything that features your bank account information.
- If you need to get rid of an old credit card or debit card, make sure you cut it up into pieces first so it can’t be forged.
- Be careful about carelessly discarding unwanted junk mail. Some junk mail, such as pre-approved credit card offers, may allow an identity thief to open an unauthorized account under your name. Make sure you shred any junk mail that discloses your identifying information.
- Shred old credit card statements and utility bills.
- Do not throw away employment documents and/or tax forms. If you need to get rid of these documents, make sure you shred them first.
- Shred old prescriptions, health insurance forms and medical records.
- Be wary of any letter that asks you to reply with personal information, as it could be part of a mail scam. Avoid sending anything through the mail that contains sensitive information; it could fall into the wrong hands or end up in the trash, vulnerable to dumpster diving.
- Avoid revealing your personal information whenever possible. Provide identifying documents or information to a store, business, hospital or other institution only when it is absolutely necessary.
Use diligence to thwart dumpster diving
Fortunately, you can take measures like the ones above to help prevent your identity from being compromised by criminals. Being careful about the things you throw away is one relatively simple step you can take to help protect your identity.
Of course, thieves have many other ways of accessing your personal information aside from dumpster diving. Identity theft protection companies can help protect you from all kinds of identity threats, from old-fashioned digging through the trash to high-tech cyber scams.