What Would a Crook Find in Your Trash?

What seems like a quiet, peaceful neighborhood can be a hunting ground for thieves.
We conducted a little experiment targeting one Colorado Springs home where trash was parked at the curb.
I introduced myself to the homeowner, "Hi, sorry to bother you. I'm Betty Sexton. How are you?"
With the permission of Rich, the homeowner, we snatched a couple bags of trash.
I asked him if he thought we would find anything.
His response, "Probably will! Probably will!"
I took Rich's trash back to the station and in just a few minutes... had all I needed to assume his identity and use two of his credit cards, his American Express and his Chase Visa.
What he had discarded would have allowed me to spend thousands.
Rich told me, "We probably ought to do shredding and we don't. Been wanting to do that and haven't gotten to it."
Now he has an incentive to buy a shredder.
Josh Bliss, a financial crimes detective with the Colorado Springs Police Department says thieves are stealing identities three ways... by breaking into cars, stealing out of mailboxes, and digging through trash.
Bliss told me, "A trash can, it's easy. They go into... they're not really breaking anything... may not even look suspicious."
Bliss says the majority of credit card crimes take place without your card ever leaving your wallet.
If a thief got his hands on the information i got from Rich's trash, he could sell it online.
In fact, we found online crooks selling credit card numbers for anywhere from $2 to $50 per card.
Bliss says it's important to monitor your credit and debit cards either by phone or the internet.
He suggests, "Frequently check your account activity especially when it comes to debit cards. You want to check it at least every two days."
Statistics show more than 11 million Americans became victims of identity theft last year at a cost of $54 billion.
Don't forget, join us for Letter Rip on Friday, May 7th.
Have your old financial documents shredded for free and keep them out of the hands of crooks.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by iluna Location: Colorado Springs on May 14, 2010 at 09:11 AM
    It seems like common sense to shred stuff, but as this piece shows, too many people don't take the time. I shred every week or so & recycle it. I shred retirement info, insurance stuff, credit card statements, phone bills, bank stuff, anything with my name ion it. I shred often enough that it isn't a huge task. It is so worth the small effort.
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