Identify theft is a major concern for most people these days. Criminals will quickly drain a person’s bank account and credit cards, often ruining not only the person’s finances, but their credit and sometimes their jobs and lives.

There are a number of ways that your identity can be stolen.

Computer hacking has become a popular method of getting someone’s information. We’re constantly hearing how one major retailer after another has their system hacked. Cyber criminals obtain the bank card information for millions of people and then turn around and sell that information to others. Those other criminals then use the bank card information to steal from the cardholders.

Personal computers also get hacked if not properly protected. Many people pay their bills and do their banking online, providing all of the information a hacker needs to steal their identity and their money.

Another common method of stealing someone’s identity is getting their hands on our mail. I’ve read of numerous accounts of someone driving through neighborhoods looking for mailboxes with the flags up. They stop, open the mailbox and grab your outgoing mail, hoping that you are paying a bill with a check. With your check the bill in hand, they have everything they need to start draining your bank account and ruining your credit.

However, other identity thieves follow the mailman and grabbing your mail before you ever see it. They are looking for the advertisements from banks offering you credit cards, mortgages and other loans. Many of those advertisements have your name and address already printed on the applications.

Every week I receive these kinds of ads from Citi, American Express and several others. However, no one is as prolific as Capital One. Some days I see 4 different pieces of mail from Capitol One.

What do you do with this junk mail from the banks? Do you just throw it away? Do you rip it in two and then throw it away? Or do you take the time to shred it?

Continue reading →