“Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?”
- Sesame Street
Unless you have young kids, it’s probably been a while since you’ve watched Sesame Street.
But, as Grouchy as Oscar is, there’s a good chance the individuals that are going through your trash are not nearly as harmless as good old Oscar the Grouch.
Even more important, the nicer the neighborhood you live in, the more valuable your trash is to those folks who like going through it.
Time and time again, I hear stories of neighborhood watches being on the lookout for individuals going through the trash bins. And let’s face facts: We’re talking about higher priced neighborhoods… and you know who you are.
It comes down to the potential value of the items you’re throwing away.
You remember the old saying: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
Well there’s an extremely good chance that a million dollar home is throwing away something that has a much higher “Treasure” value than lower priced neighborhoods.
And although it’s not a big deal for someone to take away that old lampshade you tossed out…
It is a big deal when you see that same individual pulling single sheets of paper out of your trash!
When that person is pulling out sheets of paper, smoothing them out, folding them up, and sticking them in their pocket, you can be certain that those papers are not being collected for their recycling value.
I think the inclination is to underestimate the ability of a garbage picker to use your personal data for their personal financial gain.
The thing is… Most identity fraud is still accomplished by accessing personal information through low tech methods such as someone going through your trash, giving your ATM PIN to a close friend or family member, or just leaving sensitive information lying around your home or office where someone can easily access it.
ID Fraud is often a crime of open opportunity and not necessarily that of hardened criminals. Don’t get me wrong… there are professional, high tech, I.D. Theft Criminals who are out to separate you from your money.
But for folks going through tough times, an old canceled check is an opportunity just waiting to be taken advantage of.
Your best option is to reduce and eliminate these opportunities for those who may want to take advantage of them.
Make sure to properly destroy sensitive personal information, either on paper or electronic, before disposal. And when in doubt, your best bet is to ensure proper destruction instead of taking the risk.
This is truly a time when an “Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure.”
Keep an eye on my blog in the next few days as I’ll be putting out a list of 10 items you can do to protect your identity.
Keep Totally Secure,