Shredding and Preventing Car Prowls—Helping to Avoid Identity Theft

10 June 2015

As identity thieves become more determined and their attacks increase in frequency, it’s important to take steps to prevent your personal information from falling into the wrong hands. Taking the time to carry out these precautionary measures can mean the difference between keeping your information safe and exposing it to potential fraudsters.

One way to ensure the privacy of your personal information is to shred all sensitive documents rather than throwing them away in the trash once you’re finished with them. Identity thieves have been known to go through dumpsters and recycling bins in search of names, addresses, social insurance and credit card numbers that they can use to commit fraud or even sell on the black market.

A recent shredding event sponsored by the Alberta Motor Association in Calgary gave local residents the opportunity to dispose of their sensitive information properly.

“Today we’re going to put through about 1,000 people and we’re probably going to destroy about 20 tons of paper,” AMA crime prevention coordinator Wendy Mah told Metro News.

“[T]here’s too many people out there trying to take advantage of people,” added event attendee Mary Myers, saying she was glad her documents would be permanently destroyed so that no one else would be able to access them.

Meanwhile, experts are urging Canadians to be more careful about the risk of motor vehicle prowls and theft, which can also lead to identity theft and credit card fraud if any valuables or important documents are left in the vehicle. The Toronto Star published a story in April about the rise in car thefts in high-end neighborhoods in Toronto, proving that no matter where your car is parked, theft remains a possibility.

Of course, you can’t do much to single-handedly keep criminals away from your car. But there are a few things you can do to make it less likely your belongings and information will be stolen in a car prowl:

  • Don’t keep any valet keys inside the vehicle. Leaving them there will allow what would have been just a smash-and-grab to become an outright car theft if the thieves get ahold of the keys.
  • Don’t leave valuables or sensitive information in a parked car, and if you must, store these things out of sight, under one of the seats or in the trunk or glove compartment. Leaving the contents of your car in plain sight can make it more attractive to thieves.
  • Park near cars of approximately the same type and value. The more your car stands out from its surroundings, the more likely it is to be scoped out for theft. Blending in is the name of the game when you’re trying to discourage criminals from approaching your vehicle.

Another way to help protect yourself from identity theft is to subscribe to a credit monitoring service that will alert you to certain types of activity in your credit file that could indicate that fraud has occurred.