Identity Theft


Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso) Give me a forum ...
Apr 15, 2003

I'm trying to get ready to do some extended traveling. Today I sold my last junker car. I've been liquidating books on Amazon and E-Bay. In fact, I have sold at least four books for $150 each- books that I bought for maybe $4 to $15 years ago. One old book on horse racing that I bought used in 1984 for $5 went for $250- less Amazon's 15%. Some investing guru mentioned it as helpful to stock market investors. I hope so- it wasn't very helpful to me as a horse handicapper.

I love living in an affluent society!

So to get to the point, every day I get about 4 credit card offers, plus lots of other junk mail. How do I stop this barrage? Now, each week I dutifully shred all this junk, but I can't do it remotely while I travel.

What have you guys done?

Hi Mikey,

Maybe I'm stupid, but I just throw the envelopes away in the trash on the way back from the mailbox.

I'm not recommending this approach at all. - I just never thought there was that much in there that was of any value to anybody.

I'm thinking if someone wanted to highjack your identity, there is enough legal info available from public records to do it - If they were motivated enough!
For many years, we haven't had a fixed US address, so we used a mail forwarding service. They offer "toss the junk" as a free service.

They are at -- please tell them Bill on Dory, box 355 sent you!

There is a "direct marketing" group that will take your name and put it on a 'do not use' list. It gets rid of some of the junk mail. I think that the web link is for it, but you might want to check as well. For the credit card offers, contact the credit unions (Experion, Transunion, Equifax) and send them an opt out letter such at the one at .

Thats all that I have heard of. If you are doing extensive traveling, but keeping a home address, you may want to check into some mail forwarding services. I heard of one that you call when you will be somewhere for a few days and they send you a package of your mail.

When I went tdy for months at a time in the 70's and 80's, I usually ended up recruiting a friend. Called back periodically and culled the junk mail over the phone and had them send anything important to a local post office(USA not oversea's). Even then it was a bit of a pain in the butt. The other way(even worse) was to prepay anything I could and let the post office hold my mail - a couple of month's at most to the best of my memory.
BTY- dumb question- does anyone notify their credit card company when changing spending habits - like starting to travel extensively?
Nope! My credit card activity swings from huge to -0-
all the time. Indentity theft is not something I worry
about. Have had a few experiences with non-
authorized use. The CC companies took care of it
quickly and with no hassle. Seems like they are
pretty used to these problems.
We shred all pre-approved credit card offers.  We shred anything and everything with personal info or account numbers, etc.  With a security shredder, not with a simple strip type of shredder. That puts our security above the US Embassy's in Teheran, Iran back in the late 70's!

Have you noticed that when you get your yearly Soc. Sec. update, your S.S. number is no longer on it?

When we know we are going to be away, we have our mail held at the post office.  And we start the hold a day early, so we can verify that it is indeed held, rather than delivered.  I don't know if that is the answer for a long away time, and won't get it to you remotely.

Identity theft is rarely about someone getting ahold of YOUR credit card(s) and running up the bill on those particular cards.  Because those cards you know about, and you can halt them.

It is about someone applying for credit in your name, using your particulars.  And all the info gets mailed somewhere else.  When you finally find out that something's fishy, its too late.  Another you has wrecked your credit, and YOU owe big bills!  And you have to try to convince people who haven't been paid, that You are YOU, and not the you that ran up those big bills.  All the while, you have no credit and are marked as a lying deadbeat.  Have read that it takes typically 12 to 18 mos. to straighten out, with great effort.  

Some state attorney generals have web site info on what to do when it happens.  Every story I have heard where this has happened to someone it was a real nightmare.  And cost them lots of $.

The fastest growing non-violent crime is identity theft.  And police aren't really interested.  It is growing so rapidly, that it is being thought of not as "if", but "when" it happens to everyone.

If not doing it now, take steps to protect yourself!
BTY- dumb question- does anyone notify their credit card company when changing spending habits - like starting to travel extensively?

I haven't in the past, but I have had them notify me! After I retired I went from Colorado to California, picked up my mom, a rental truck, packed up too much stuff, and drove to NY. Mom can't fly, gets disoriented in large crowds, so mass transit of any kind was out. Movers lost too much stuff so she wouldn't trust them, etc. but she really wanted to be by my sister, grandkids, etc. in NY. So I played at being a good son, and long haul truck driver. When I was somewhere in Utah, the credit card company called my home and asked my wife if any cards were missing, that they were seeing a concerning pattern of usage.

So, the bottom line of the story is that they do watch that stuff. Maybe getting no answer at the home number for a couple of calls would have placated them as well, but I would guess notifying them wouldn't hurt, but probably is not necessary.

Another credit card behavior I have observed is on my 'business' card. I have an apartment building and manage it. Every few months, when vacent units need re-hab, I buy supplies and my maintenance guy goes to work. It seems that after about $1000 worth of sinks, cabinets, etc. the clerk at the local Home Depot askes to see my ID. Otherwise, I don't think I ever get asked for ID when using a charge card.

Probably my most blatant case of unauthorized use
was when I loaned my phone card to my oldest
daughter when she was working in NYC for the
summer. I got a bill for $1800.00 for one month.
Someone got the number off the card and
I ended up with a bill showing calls all over the world,
one after another. The phone co. was quite casual
about it. "Happens all the time. Just pay for the calls
you made." BTW, I have been
phoned at home several times when I was taking
unusually large cash advances, to verify the

John Galt
Thanks for all the suggestions. I am kind of a security guy, so I might upgrade my shredder for now, and also look into a mail service. I might close some credit card accounts- that should slow down the arrival of those 1.9% for one year offers.


Latest posts

Top Bottom