Have you ever heard of a “dumpster diver”? You might associate this nickname with a person looking for food or discarded items that they might be able to use. Unfortunately, dumpster divers aren’t just after your leftover pizza. In many cases they are actually sophisticated criminals, searching for information that they can use to commit identity theft.
Any time you throw away documents, you could be handing your name, address, and other personal information to these would-be thieves. After sifting through the garbage, dumpster divers often come up with enough information on their victims to commit identity theft. They might open credit accounts in your name, ruin your credit, or even steal your tax refund.
Identity theft is difficult to trace, and even more difficult to remedy once it has happened to you. You could be out thousands of dollars and suffer a poor credit rating for years to come. That’s why it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Before throwing away any documents, mail, or any other paper trash, shred anything that includes your name, address, and other sensitive information like your Social Security number. Bank account statements, tax documents, and even random mail can leave you vulnerable to identity theft if you don’t carefully identify and destroy each of these items.
Believe it or not, dumpster divers can even get your name and address off of old magazines! Before you throw those away, or donate them to hospitals or other organizations, remember to tear off the address labels.
Once you get into the habit of shredding identifying documents, this safety step only takes a few seconds out of your day. It’s worth the small amount of trouble to protect your identity, credit rating, and finances.