Nine people were recently arrested and charged with 700 smash and grab thefts that lead to a thousand incidents of identity theft at a cost of more than 1.5 million dollars stolen.  Smash and grab is the term used to describe when criminals break into cars and steal personal information left in the cars to use for purposes of identity theft.  Many police departments have  warned people about the danger of leaving wallets, checkbooks and documents with personal information in cars because identity thieves are breaking into cars specifically looking for such items which they then use to make you a victim of identity theft. Additionally, following an automobile accident you should empty your car of all items with personal information before the car is towed to a junk yard or repair shop.  One of the last things people think about following an automobile accident in which their car is damaged is what documents were left in the glove compartment, trunk or elsewhere in the car and yet many people leave incredible amounts of documents with personal information including Social Security numbers that can be used to make the car accident victim a victim of identity theft, as well.  Bank statements, employment applications, W-2s and many other documents containing the car owner’s Social Security number are quite often left in the car and are ready for the picking by savvy identity thieves who will go through cars in junk yards and repair shops for this information.

TIPS

Regular readers of Scamicide may remember the Scam of the day in which I described the problems faced by a woman whose check book was stolen from her unlocked car.  You should never leave important documents in your car.  Cars are important targets for not just car thieves, but also identity thieves who know that many people leave personal documents in their automobiles which can be used to make the car owner a victim of identity theft.  Even if you routinely lock your car, you should never leave documents with personal information in your car as breaking into a locked car is not a particularly difficult task for a determined criminal.

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