Americans are used to throwing trash into a trash can and assuming that it “disappears” thereafter. Identity thieves; however, may be referring to your trash day as their “cash day.” An opportunity to prowl through discarded trash bins and retrieve your or your client’s personally identifiable information (PII). Types of information that identity thieves typically seek include:
- credit card information, new and expired
- credit card receipts
- credit card statements
- Pre-approved credit card offers and applications
- Bank statements
- Investment account statements
- Paycheck stubs
- Tax returns and statements
- Medical bills
- Insurance claim information
- Insurance policy information
- Expired identification documents (drivers license, passport, social security card)
Documents including just a name can be the starting point for an identity thief to target you; however, they really start building a case when they can gather return address information from doctors, loan information, places of employment, or investment account information.
Fortunately, this is the easiest type of identity theft to prevent. Simply shredding documents with any personally identifiable information limits your exposure. Ensure that your shredding machine is cross-cut, meaning it cannot be reasonably put back together. Shredders that simply shred slices down the document are more easily reconstructed.