Homeless people in Manteca are being paid by professional forgers to rifle through dumpsters and residential Toters to find information to steal your identify.
Manteca Police – in alerting the public of the practice – indicated all they need to find is information on your name and just your birth date and they are in business.
The homeless that pilfers your information make a few bucks and you potentially could lose thousands of dollars.
That’s why police are encouraging everyone to take advantage of the free shredding event on Tuesday, Aug.3, from 3 to 7 p.m. at Library Park. The free event is being staged through the efforts of the Manteca Police Department and the Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Manteca has arranged for Shred-It trucks to be on hand. The weekly Library Park farmers market will run concurrently from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Police say the theft of personal financial information from Toters happens all the time in Manteca. They can go into Home Depot, Staples, Office Max, Kohl’s, and such places in Manteca where they ask if you’d like to open a charge account and if they have your basic information on the spot they can open an account. Once they get the credit, they go back into the store and charge the limit and then often will toss out the information they used in the parking lot when they leave.
Last year’s event drew nearly 200 people and created several tons of shredded paper.
The aim is to reduce the potential of Manteca residents from becoming crime victims.
There also will be a trailer there to take E-waste — computer equipment and electronics that are illegal under state laws designed to protect the environment to toss in your Toters. Both services are free.
Solid waste employees will help with the event as well as the Manteca Police Department to make sure all documents are secure while waiting shredding. Volunteers from the CVB will also be on hand to help move items to be shredded from vehicles that pull into the Library Park parking lot that night.
The Manteca Police Department handles over 120 stolen identification cases a year. And one of the leading ways for crooks to steal your ID and cost you well over $1,000 — even if credit card companies cover fraudulent charges — is your garbage and your mailbox.
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.
Manteca Police detectives have noted that the figure is accurate but there are also other costs not factored into the equation 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. Rarely does such an undertaking not require taking time off from work which translates into lost wages.
Police advise that you not leave mail in an unsecured box for postal carriers to collect. It makes it easier for thieves to cause havoc with your credit when they not only have an account number and statement but a check with your bank information. You should also check your mailbox on a regular basis as incoming mail provides a wealth of information for ID theft criminals.
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.
Four years ago, there were six to eight postal box clusters in neighborhoods hit with incoming as well as outgoing mail stolen.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail email@example.com