Mar 02, 2011 Brian Bradley
Identity thieves may now be scouting out businesses' and consumers' recycling bins, according to a report from WCBS. Residents have reported seeing vans driving through the neighborhoods of East Meadow, New York, and stealing the recycling bins that have papers inside. The thieves may be looking for financial statements or other papers that contain valuable personal or business information, Nassau County legislator Norma Gonsalves told the station. Businesses and consumers can protect themselves from identity theft and other forms of fraud by shredding sensitive papers and moving to electronic record-keeping systems. Email service providers such as Google offer a two-step sign in process, which can also guard against hackers trying to access business records or client information stored online. The Federal Trade Commission recommends training business staff to separate documents into piles of benign paperwork and those papers that need to be treated with care, using a cross-cut shredder to ensure protection. There are laws regulating how businesses that use consumer credit reports dispose of the documents. If a business is upgrading its computers, saving important files on external hard drives and using software to completely wipe an old computer's hard drive can also protect against information thieves, the commission recommends.