Identity Thieves Want Your Trash - KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Identity Thieves Want Your Trash

Identity Thieves Want Your Trash

FRESNO, Calif. (KMPH) - I woke up one morning and I had a penny left in my checking account," said Cheryl Hoerntlein.

Cheryl Hoerntlein is a victim of identity theft.

"My name, my social security, my birthday, my address, my everything … this person had my everything," said Hoerntlein.

According to Fresno police, identity theft is a big problem across the Valley.

One of the ways identity thieves can get their hands on your information is by going into your trash.

According to detectives, thieves look for old bills, credit card statements, and tax information; anything that contains your name, address, birthday, social security number, credit card numbers, or bank account information.

"They can go online and ask for a credit report. Once they get that credit report, they have everything," said Hoerntlein.

Crooks can then use that information to apply for credit cards, make fake IDs, file tax returns and even go on shopping sprees with your existing store cards.

"As a matter of fact the person who stole my identity did this at Macy's. She went in, applied for a Macy's card, they told her… do you want to use your existing account? Oh sure, I wasn't even thinking about that because I don't have the card with me. Don't worry we can look that up for you. Charge, charge, charge and then I get the bill," said Hoerntlein.

Hoerntlein says all it took was a fake ID, her birth date and her social security number.

All together she says she received $10,000 in fraudulent charges.

Its big bucks and a big lesson she learned the hard way.

"Since this started we have been very diligent about shredding everything. If it's got a name or an address on it, we shred it...it makes perfect sense and it's a treasure trove for someone that knows where to look," said Hoerntlein.

Police advise that you also protect your trash at work.

Detectives believe thieves are specifically targeting trash left behind by insurance, tax and law offices.

To monitor your credit activity, detectives suggest that you regularly check your credit report to spot fraud.
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