Spring Has Sprung and So Has Identity Theft

Learn why identity theft blossoms in springtime

What do identity theft, spring-cleaning, flowers and April showers have in common? On the surface, not much. But while you're concentrating on clearing the clutter and doing your annual spring-cleaning, thieves are concentrating on cleaning up with your personal information.

Learn how thieves take advantage of spring-cleaning to clean you out.

Spring Cleaning Safety Tips

There's just something about the springtime. It's a time for new beginnings, a time to get rid of clutter, and start fresh. To do this, we Americans have a tradition of cleaning everything out and getting rid of our excess.

That's exactly what thieves want you to do. There's nothing a thief likes better than to see spring-cleaning going on. Why? Because most of your cast-offs are put out on the curb for the waste collector. That's where the fun begins for thieves.

With your cast-offs, thieves can glean all kinds of information from you. Then, they use this information to steal your identity, open new credit card accounts, bank accounts, and get loans and free medical benefits.

Here's how to prevent this from happening to you.

Tip #1 -- Before you throw away or donate old computers, have the hard drive professionally cleaned. Thieves can go into your hard drive and get all your personal information including credit card numbers.

Tip #2 -- Shred all deposit, ATM, credit and debit card receipts and canceled checks. Also carefully guard anything with your social security number, birth date, PIN numbers, and passwords.

Tip #3 -- Before throwing away, donating, or selling cell phones, remove and destroy the SIM card.

Tip #4 -- If your home copier that has a hard drive, have it professionally reformatted before you get rid of it.

Tip #5 -- Remove personal information from all iPads, iPhones, iTouch, Blackberrys, and smartphones before disposal.

In the United States, we have so much technology at our fingertips; we often forget how much of our information is stored in the devices we use every day. Whether it's high-tech or paper files, be very careful and don't become a victim of identity theft.

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