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Identity Theft?

(25 Posts)
Earlybird Tue 08-Feb-05 12:00:00

I spent a month in America over the Christmas holidays. While there, I was perplexed to see regular telly ads advising about "identity theft" and it's dangers/how to avoid it happening.

Every single private home I visited had paper shredders next to their desks/computers. When I asked why, they all replied that they shred their old bills, financial documents, credit card offers, etc to avoid "identity theft" from someone who might sift through the rubbish, glean private information and then use it dishonestly. My sister, who travels alot for work, even has a lock on her own postbox at the end of her drive! Her explanation is that there are people who steal letters/cheques, etc from postboxes, so it is foolish to leave your postbox unlocked and thus vulnerable.

Can this sort of thing happen here? Do you shred documents/old papers/bills before disposing of them? Is it simply a paranoid American thing, or are we too naive here? I've just thrown away some documents of financial transactions, and wonder if I should have been more careful....

Gwenick Tue 08-Feb-05 12:02:39

ermm no it's very common and very real.

Gwenick Tue 08-Feb-05 12:03:22


Earlybird Tue 08-Feb-05 12:20:54

gwenick - thanks for the link. Clearly it's a problem here too.

Just curious, do any of you have shredders at home? What, if any, precautions do you take to avoid this happening to you? Looks like I would be wise to be more careful.....

Marina Tue 08-Feb-05 12:26:39

Yes. We shred all personal info before binning including addressed envelopes. I have been known to ensure I dump gravy/porridge on the shredded paperwork to ensure no piecing together, but then I am a worrywart.

Furball Tue 08-Feb-05 12:28:11

We've got a shredder, just a normal one. When I mentioned it to my uncle who lives in USA, he said better to get a cross cut one. So it sounds quite a problem over there.

Anyway we shred all our documents with any info on, including just our name and address then put it out with the recycling.

Gobbledigook Tue 08-Feb-05 12:47:21

We shred but not sure what the chances really are of 'identity theft'!

I know someone robbed mine (identity) when they stole my bag and it had my driving license in! I got numerous court summons for driving offences before they worked out it wasn't me. Woman was actually jailed in the end!!!

gscrym Tue 08-Feb-05 12:50:16

We shread everything including receipts that we don't need anymore. We know someone who had they're identity stolen and also someone who had their credit cards and bank account used by someone who had stolen receipts.

misdee Tue 08-Feb-05 12:50:51

lady over the rd from my mum used my mums details to open catalogue accounts. my uncle was the postamn on my mums street and thought they had put the wrong address on, my mum had to call the catalogue company, but dont know if she called the police.

Gobbledigook Tue 08-Feb-05 12:52:18

Gobbledigook Tue 08-Feb-05 12:53:10

Come to think of it, my brother nicked a woman the other week for this very thing. She had a folder full of other people's details!! They only pulled her in originally for nicking stuff from a DIY shop but when they got into her van it was an Aladdin's cave

misdee Tue 08-Feb-05 12:53:22

very easy to do, think they share postal codes.

bundle Tue 08-Feb-05 12:54:49

identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in the UK.

WideWebWitch Tue 08-Feb-05 12:58:37

We have a shredder and shred receipts and invitations to new credit cards etc. Especially those, since they're often part completed with names and addresses etc. I say we shred it, what we really do it put it in a pile to be shredded when we get around to it.

munnzieb Tue 08-Feb-05 13:19:56

oo we don't do any of that, we just tare it in two, maybe I should invest in one? no wonder there's never any money in the account! it's not me over spending!

Gwenick Tue 08-Feb-05 16:27:40

we also tear up junk mail with our name and address on it, it only takes on 'missed' detail for them to start to 'build' up your details. All receipts get cut up too.

My mum (when she was still able to do her gardening) used to save all the stuff she wanted 'destroying' and use it for fuel for her garden bonfires

BadHair Tue 08-Feb-05 16:50:05

Nope don't shred, just rip up. Wouldn't do anyone any good to nick my identity - I have nothing in my bank account and my credit rating is so abysmal no-one would lend them money.

Clayhead Tue 08-Feb-05 17:25:58

Very real.

Happened to my grandad in 2003. It happened very, very quickly, 'they' had many cards and accounts listed in his name within days. We (family) only realised about it as the local post depot had received 2 redirection orders (1 real, 1 fake) and questioned it with us, just luck. As the post wasn't redirected to the fraudsters, we got it instead and were inundated with accounts within a week. They also managed to have his phone reconnected with a divert so that they could use his home phone number on applications, they had a false driving licence with all his details on accept the age, they changed that to someone in their 50s. Very, very organised.

The people who were great about it were: Northern Rock, HSBC. Nationwide were rubbish and BT were so poor it took 6 months for them to stop sending my grandad red bills (we had informed them early on he had Alzheimer's, had moved out of the property and it was fraud but they did not take any notice of us). The Police said they didn't have the resources to combat it but it was rife.

It took ages to sort out. We had to register him with CIFAS.

I shred everything now...

charliecat Tue 08-Feb-05 17:34:53

I have a metal bucket outside the back door and every so often i have my own mini bonfire of old paper work. Have shredded too but prefer the fire!

LittleMissShy Tue 08-Feb-05 17:35:09

Is there anyway to check if someone else is using your identity???

JanH Tue 08-Feb-05 19:16:23

I think the fact that Americans get their post in a box outside the house - and 100s of yards from the front door in some cases - must mean it's a lot easier over there.

Not that we shouldn't be careful but surely tearing papers up into pieces is enough? (Ours goes out for recycling so they'd have to a) be bloody quick and b) do it at our front gate!)

grumpyfrumpy Tue 08-Feb-05 19:23:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Gwenick Tue 08-Feb-05 22:19:35

JanH - it it's in the middle of the night nothing will stop these people looking through your bins - there's even been cases of bins being raided inside BACK gardens!

Tanzie Tue 08-Feb-05 23:09:53

It's perfectly easy. You go to the GRO, look up deaths for someone about your age who died young and then apply for their birth certificate. Once armed with this, you can apply for a passport. I've seen this happen and it was very distressing for the family of the child who died young.

Earlybird Wed 09-Feb-05 14:12:07

OK, you've all convinced me that I am taking foolish risks by simply throwing out my bills, receipts, etc. I am now the proud owner of a small shredder purchased at Ryman's today for the princely sum of 19 pounds!

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