City Gives Steps You Can Take to Prevent Identity Steps

In the wake of increased identity theft and mail theft, law enforcement officials took the opportunity to re-emphasize to the community the importance of shredding financial accounts before discarding them and checking one's mailbox regularly.

During the public safety update at last Monday's La Cañada Flintridge City Council meeting, Captain Tim Peters from the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's station informed the council of another stolen recycling bin, a concern because thieves regularly scour the bins for sensitive documents.

"We've learned that the possible motives for stealing recycling bins are to find a person's credit card information or other financial account information to use it for identity theft," said Peters.

A total of 12 recycling bins have been stolen in the community over the past six months, according to Detective Frank Diana.

City Manager Mark Alexander said it's not enough to just rip the account information into pieces because criminals can still tape together the credit card application, mail it out and the credit card companies will still accept it and consider it as valid.

"It's important that personal financial information being disposed is shredded and not just ripped into pieces," said Alexander.

In addition, only shredding the first page of a credit card account or any other financial account is not enough because the account number appears at the top of every page.

"With just the account number a person can commit fraud through Internet purchases," Peters said.

Also, to know if you are a victim of identity theft it's recommended that "one obtain a copy of their credit report and see if there are any open accounts that don't belong to you," said Peters.

Furthermore, Detective Diana said there has also been a rise in mail box theft. The purpose in stealing mail is to get bank statements or credit card junk mail to commit identity theft.

Diana recommends that residents get locking mailboxes, however also has suggestions if they don't: "If not, then make sure to check their mail regularly so it doesn't just sit," he said. If residents plan on going on vacation, it's recommended that they get a post office box.

Diana said it's very easy for someone to say, "Oh, I'll get the mail later and the next thing you know, it's all gone."

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