There are times when I feel like being around people yet I want to be alone. Does it make any sense? When it happens, I go to the library or a bookstore. I am a bookworm, what can I say. Anyhow, this is exactly how I was feeling the other night. I decided to go to the bookstore (Barnes and Noble), because the library was already closed.
Needless to say, I stayed at Barnes and Noble till 11pm, closing time. And by the way, I ended up buying two books The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated) and Stopping Identity Theft: 10 Easy Steps to Security.
Alright. I don’t want to deviate from what I wanted to write about.
As I was coming home at around 11:15pm, I noticed something very interesting. Two men dressed in dark clothes with bags and small headlamps going through the trash cans.
The trash is collected twice a week in my area. And the residents usually pull the trash cans out and leave them at the curbside late at night for the early morning trash collection.
These two men, obviously, have been canvassing the area, because they were so prepared. They weren’t collecting bottles; they were on a scavenger hunt. They could be searching for coupons (extreme couponing), but somehow I am convinced that they were looking for valuable information such as names, addresses, bank account numbers, pre-approved credit card offers, etc.
I called the police and I was told that they will drive by the area, but there was nothing they could really do. Why? Because once the trash leaves your private property, anyone can go through it if it is on a public property.
It is called dumpster diving. I am sure you have heard of this term. This is a low-tech method of stealing one’s sensitive information. In 2002, Experian conducted a research to examine the contents of 400 trash bins and they came up with some interesting numbers. Read my article here.
A lot has changed since 2002, of course. I am sure a lot of people have invested in good shredders. But something tells me that there are still those who are pretty ignorant and reckless. “Who would go through my trash any way?” some may ask. Well, I saw it happening with my own eyes.
Will you believe me if I told you that with just your name and address the thief can find out your Social Security number? If the thief finds your date of birth somewhere in your trash can, it is even easier. A lot of people still discard their credit card and bank statements without shredding them.
Take identity theft prevention into your own hands. If you have not invested in a good shredder, do it today. Get a heavy-duty cross-cutter shredder that would disseminate paper to confetti. Believe me, the cost of the shredder is nothing compared to what identity theft can cost you.