When I reported my identity theft, people repeatedly asked if I had had checks stolen. Not that I am aware of. But the times that my private information may have fallen into unsavory hands are numerous – some due to my own slackness, some out of my hands:
- Someone stole a bag of paper recyclables from in front of my house in 2000. That creeped me out because, er uh, there were bank statments and things merely ripped in half. I bought a good cross-cut shredder after. Duh.
- A data tape of employee information for a company I worked for "fell off a truck." (Events like this don’t always lead to ID theft but they are ripe for it.)
- I’ve used browsers on public computers in places where I knew deep down they did not have the latest patches and probably had malware on the computers. But for some reason I logged into my accounts anyway.
- I’ve lived several urban places where the mailbox was near the sidewalk, unlocked.
- I’ve moved many times and had several PO Boxes where it’s likely credit card offers continued to be sent after I closed the box. Who knows who ended up with the offers. Lots of credit card offers come for people who used to live where I live now. You may want to stop those offers from coming.
- My college used SSN as the student identifier.
- In past years drafts of tax forms with my SSN got trashed without shredding.
I used to be more paranoid about online security. Now the idea of getting scammed or phished seems trivial compared to what goes on in the creaky file cabinets of the brick and mortar world.
Might you have been affected by any of the numerous school or company data breaches reported by Privacy Rights Clearinghouse? Also check out their great Fact Sheets about handling of your Social Security Number and medical records.