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Can’t steal it if you shred it

Free event can reduce chances of ID theft

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Can’t steal it if you shred it

A Manteca resident shows sensitive documents that contain names and driver's licenses that were put out for recycling at a nearby insurance agency that ended up being blown into her front yard.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin


POSTED April 15, 2010 3:31 a.m.
A Mylnar Avenue resident noticed a lot of paper debris blowing across her lawn on Monday and it made her angry.

It wasn’t the fact that her yard was covered with discarded paper, although she wasn’t a happy camper about that. What made her mad was that a nearby insurance agency apparently had put sensitive documents with detailed driver’s information into the municipal recycling Toter that somehow had toppled over to allow the wind to blow the sensitive information around Manteca.

Her ire was sharpened by the fact she at one time had been an identity theft victim. It took months for her to straighten out her credit.

Manteca Police have warned residents repeatedly over the last few years that some criminals will pay transients to retrieve such information by going through blue Toters.

Manteca Police spokesman Rex Osborn noted that identity theft is on the rise in San Joaquin County. At a countywide meeting of Crime Stoppers groups this week it was noted how ID theft cases are on the upswing while resources to combat them have been reduced due to budget constraints.

That is why Osborn said police are encouraging Manteca residents and businesses to take advantage of a free Shred-It event this Saturday, April 17, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. It will take place at the municipal corporation yard on Wetmore Street off South Main Street adjacent to the animal shelter across from the water tower.

Osborn said people dropping off items to be shredded are asked to box them. A Manteca Police officer will be on site to make sure the boxes with sensitive documents that may end up piling up due to the time it takes to shred items are kept secure.

 The no charge event sponsored by the City of Manteca Solid Waste Division also includes free E-waste recycling, free battery recycling, and free compost. To collect free compost you must bring your own shovels and containers.

Wayne Miller may not go quite that far, but the Manteca Police detective understands all too well the pain of innocently just tossing credit card statements or even promo mailings with unsolicited loan checks into the garbage.

The Manteca Police Department handles over 120 stolen identification cases a year.

Police warn that anything with your name on it and any form of identification – account number or even numbers assigned (to you by an unsolicited credit card offer) – can be used by someone to steal your identification.

The Federal Trade Commission indicates there are 10 million victims of identity theft a year in the United States with a good number of the cases involving serious breaches that take the victim an average of 175 hours to clear up their credit with average losses not covered by financial institutions pegged at $1,500.

Even those who have losses covered incur significant expenses. Besides the need to obtain credit reports, they will invest around 175 hours during the workday to contact creditors by phone and mail.

Police also recommend that you drop outgoing mail off inside the post office or in the large postal boxes placed around town. They caution, however, not to leave mail if you can see other mail stacked up from the opening.

Several years ago, Manteca had a rash of mail thefts from criminals who reached into full mailboxes and grabbed what they could.

About three years ago, there were six to eight postal box clusters in neighborhoods hit with incoming as well as outgoing mail stolen.
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