04:40PM | 01/24/06
Member Since: 01/18/06
21 lifetime posts

Before you are slingshot into the twenty-first century by a dose of reality, you should realize that crime takes many forms. A burglars tools doesn't always consist of a screw driver pry bar and a flashlight. The modern day thief can do more damage with a piece of paper than with conventional implements.

Pieces of paper like your bank statements, credit card receipts, cancelled checks, expired vehicle registration, financial records, or federal income tax returns.

These documents usually find their way into trash cans and recycle bins all over the country just waiting for expert dumpster divers to exploit. The art of "trashing" or as it is sometimes called, "Dumpstering", is the practice of rummaging through trash, whether commercial or residential to find items of use that have been discarded. Up until a few years ago this practice was reserved strictly for the needy.

Now with the abundance of personal information, dumpster diving has become a low-tech method to steal personal information. Crooks root through your garbage cans or communal dumpsters looking for copies of checks, credit cards, bank statements or other records that typically bear your name, address and even your telephone number. These types of documents make it easy for crooks to get control over your accounts and assume your identity.

You can avoid becoming a victim of a dumpster diver by purchasing a paper shredder. More and more people are taking advantage of this relatively cheap way of safeguarding their personal information. Traditionally only businesses used paper shredders, but with the decreasing costs and changing times statistics show that more and more shredders are finding their way into residential homes each year.

Although more expensive, I would recommend a cross-cut shredder because it offers the advantage of shredding the paper in two directions.(vertically and horizontally). The end result is tiny pieces (similar to confetti) instead of strips which make reconstruction of your documents more difficult.

If you suspect that any of your accounts have been tampered with or credit cards fraudulently opened, you should immediately contact someone in the security or fraud department of each creditor and follow-up with a letter.

You should also file a report with the local police where the identity theft took place. Make sure you get a copy of the police report in the event the bank, or credit card company needs proof of the violation.

Keep a record of all your efforts to clear up your violation, include copies of written correspondence and records of telephone calls as well. It is also a good idea to contact one of the three major credit bureaus and place a fraud alert.

In the real world, remembering to stay alert at all times helps to keep check on thieves, whether they're using pry bars or dumpsters to execute their senseless crime.

Frank Fourchalk

Security Consultant/Columnist


08:26PM | 04/29/07
Member Since: 04/18/07
26 lifetime posts
Paper shredder is a solid suggestion
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