Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America.
Last year there were nearly 10 million victims.
Recently, in a News 12 Special Assignment, we met Kevin Lloyd.
He fell for a scam on line by responding to an e-mail that looked like it was from his bank...but wasn't.
"Oh, it was thousands," Kevin said. "They left hundreds- they stole thousands. It was a lot."
We also heard from an expert who says to shred all those credit card offers to make sure someone else doesn't apply for credit in your name, and that you shouldn't pay your bills out of your mailbox, as the red flag is a red flag to thieves that your personal information is inside.
But what about your trash?
You might be throwing away your identity without even knowing it.
The trouble with your trash is...out of sight, out of mind. But do you ever think about where it ends up? In recycling centers...where we found many of you are trashing your identity.
There's lots of paper, plastic, glass and cardboard, to be sure.
But it's the paper that can help turn your trash into someone else's treasure.
Sanitation Superintendent Sonya Lindley has been watching trash move through this facility for more than 14 years.
"We've seen a lot of checkbooks, used credit cards--canceled or not. We've seen a lot of that," Sonya says.
Hard to believe what can slip through the cracks and end up here.
Something caught my eye rolling along the conveyer belt.
It was a bank statement with account numbers and so much personal information we can't show it on TV.
We decided to return it to its owners, John and Majorie Kilbane.
They were surprised when we showed up.
"We're doing a story on identity theft and all the strange things that turn up in the trash...and I've got to show you what turned up in the trash today," I told them. "Are you ready? There's some information here you probably would not want to fall in the wrong hands. Do you recognize that?
"Yes, I always put it in my room...how it got in the trash, I don't know."
"We certainly thank you for bringing it to us and letting us know what this identity theft is all about."
One important piece of mail out of tons.
But that's all it takes to put one of your financial statements in the wrong hands.
"Don't even just throw them away in your trash, because dumpster diving--still the old traditional one--that's still one of the primary ways thieves collect the data," says Todd Davis, CEO of a company called Lifelock. For $10 a month, Lifelock will put alerts on your credit reports and guarantee you'll never lose a dime because of identity theft.
There's just one more thing you should know about the recycling center where we found the Kilbanes' bank statement.
One of the last people to handle the stuff you throw away will be an inmate on a prison work crew.
Nothing against those workers; I understand they've never been a problem.
We just wanted you to know.
Another thing to keep in mind: Make sure you don't move without leaving a forwarding address.
If the post office can't find you, your mail, including those pre-approved credit card offers, will end up in the trash.
There's so much to think about; so many ways they can get your information.
And I hate to say it, but Todd Davis from Lifelock told me the thing that scares him the most is handing his credit card over to a waiter or waitress...and watching them walk away with it.
Designed by Gray Digital Media