Protecting your identity

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webmaster | 05/17/12
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You may have noticed that Valley First Credit Union, which has moved to its new digs at 126 N. D St., plans to hold a Shred Day today, starting at 10 a.m. Valley First isn’t the first bank to hold a Shred Day this year. Central Valley Community Bank on Howard Road held one a few weeks ago. The shredders come armed with a big machine on a truck. They accomplish the shredding and take the shreds to the dump.

These public shreddings are a convenience for people faced with an inconvenient reality, which is that if they don’t shred their stuff before they throw it out crooks may find it and use it to steal their identities.

Once someone has your identity, they can have their ways with you. They can get into your bank account and steal whatever is there. After your money disappears, if you unknowingly write checks, and they all bounce, your creditors will start to call, and even if they sympathize with you, you still will owe them the money.

Another thing the crooks can do is use your identity to obtain fraudulent credit cards, which they will give to merchants to buy stuff for which you will get the bills. In some cases the credit card issuer may forgive these charges, but you still will have to go to a lot of trouble to clean up the mess these criminals leave behind.

I can remember the times before shredding when a person didn’t worry about thieves stealing garbage. We just worried about thieves stealing things that hadn’t been thrown out yet. The advent of electronic commerce, from credit cards to Internet banking, was supposed to provide us with safety and convenience. That didn’t happen. Now, we have shredders and all kinds of companies selling us electronic protection services.

No wonder many people are putting their credit cards in their freezers, and using them just for emergencies. They pay cash — or write checks — for almost everything else.

Which is fine, but just be careful you don’t accidentally shred the cash.

 

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