In a world of escalating identity theft, one man’s trash is another man’s excuse to help himself to a new line of credit.
Making a few halfhearted snips with the scissors to your old credit cards just won’t cut it anymore. Dumpster divers intent on looking for account numbers do not need much. Experts say even shredded cards can be pieced together by an earnest thief.
“Anything you put out on the street, you’re saying, ‘Have at it,'” said Jim Stickley, the author of “The Truth About Identity Theft” and a security expert who has done more than his share of picking through trash to identify security breaches for corporate clients.
Much of the identity theft that touches millions of Americans each year could can be prevented with a few simple measures that take less than a minute. Here are six tips for doing it right.
1. Properly cut up your credit cards
Scissors can do a fine job of destroying a credit card — provided you use them correctly.
After suffering from several cases of both credit card and identity fraud, blogger Jim Wang of Bargaineering.com developed a system for cutting his cards that involves slicing each set of four numbers into six pieces (see the video “How to destroy a credit card” for a demonstration). Make sure you also cut through your signature and the magnetic stripe on the card.
2. Completely shred your cards and documents
Shredders can also do the trick, but be sure your shredder is designed to handle credit cards and has a crosscutting function.
Such machines are typically twice the price of a normal shredder but still less than $100 — worth the price to protect your credit.
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