Tear and Toss Not Enough to Prevent ID Theft

Think that tearing up your credit card offers and tossing them in the trash is enough to keep identity thieves at bay? Think again. A 6/16 _ABC News 20/20_ story reported on a man who tore a credit card offer into tiny pieces and then, as an experiment, taped it back together, completed the application using his father’s address, and mailed it in. A few weeks later a credit card in his name was mailed to his father’s house. Apparently, the electronic scanners used by some credit card issuers don’t care what shape an application is in, as long as it’s readable.
What to do? Instead of tearing offers by hand, use a shredder; keep tabs on your credit report by ordering it for free at ; and stem the flow of credit card (and insurance) offers flooding your mailbox by calling 888-5-OPTOUT or going to . A related article in the _Dallas Morning News_ on 6/18 notes, however, that to opt out you have to provide you Social Security number. A Federal Trade Commission official quoted in the article said, “In general, consumers need to be careful about giving out their Social Security Number, but in this particular case, they need to.”
h3(matt). Matt’s View
p(matt). Today, a paper shredder has become an essential household appliance. Just make sure yours uses a “cross cut” or “confetti cut.” Older models slice paper straight down, tempting the most patient ID thieves to view your shredded documents as nothing but challenging, solvable jigsaw puzzles.

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