LUFKIN, TX (KTRE)- Over 9 million people become the victims of identity theft each year. The numbers continue to climb as more criminals realize just how easy it is to find personal information.
So how safe are you?
It depends partially on what you do with your garbage. What you are throwing out may put you in danger.
News 11 teamed with ex-con turned security consultant Greg Evans and hit the garbage. Digging through, we searched for what thieves may be looking for. It didn't take long to uncover items of interest.
One bag revealed expired insurance cards for the entire family. They're not valid, but that won't matter to a crook.
"Because I have the old one all I have to do is give them this number here," explained Evans, pointing to the document. "They'll tell me 'no, you have a new number' and when they give me the new number I can start using your insurance."
The next house's garbage had shredded documents in it, so Evans was hopeful that they might pass the test. But after digging a little deeper Evans discovered that they didn't shred their junk mail. It was only torn in half. Once pieced together it became pretty useful, with just a name and address.
"Once I do a background check I will be able to get his social security number, his driver's license number, how much he spent on his house..." Evans said.
The next homeowner didn't even shred. Some things were ripped up, but it only took moments to put it back together. In fact, a full credit card number was found.
To avoid these potential nightmares, use a confetti shredder and shred the following documents: credit card offers, pill labels, basically anything with your name and address on it. You may also want to consider keeping your name out of the phone book. Beyond that, check your credit frequently and for maximum protection lock your credit.
"That means that anytime someone tries to run your credit it's locked, they cannot," Evans said.
If personal information gets in the wrong hands your life could be destroyed in an instant.
"It is very easy to get your credit stolen and messed up. It's hard to get it fixed," said Evans.
News 11 has teamed up with AllShred for a free Shred-A-Thon during News 11's Your Morning Saturday from 8 to 10 a.m. at WTOL-TV. If you have documents to shred, stop by our studios at 730 North Summit St. in Toledo.