Don’t be a holiday ID theft victim

Published 7:14 pm Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Don’t become a target of identity theft because of your Christmas trash. When you are cleaning up from the madness of Christmas morning and taking out the trash, it is important to make sure you have not thrown away something that has your name or personal information on it.

Once your trash reaches the roadway, it becomes public property, meaning that any Joe Schmo could walk by, take your information and become you without you even knowing about it.

The best way to prevent this is to shred all paperwork, mail, stickers, etc., making it impossible for other people to steal your identity and ruin not only your credit history but also your life.

If you don’t want to shred your paperwork, another option is to take it out and burn it in either a fireplace or an outside fire pit. By burning your paperwork, you are taking away all opportunity for identity theft.

Things to watch for when throwing things away that can be taken and used for identity theft include any type of paperwork that has the following printed on it:

Your full name

Your home address

Your Social Security Number

Your home telephone

Email accounts

Email passwords

Credit card numbers

If you have to throw away your trash and feel that everything with your printed, personal information on it has not been properly shredded, make sure you do not place the garbage by the road until it is time for pick-up.

Right after a holiday like Christmas is the best time to keep a watch on your credit card bill statements and bank account to make sure your identity has not fallen into the hands of a stranger.

If you think you have become a victim, you should contact your local authorities as soon as possible to make a report.