Police Offer Tips for Proper Disposal of Sensitive Information

2 years 9 months 4 weeks ago Tuesday, November 21 2017 Nov 21, 2017 November 21, 2017 5:14 PM November 21, 2017 in News

SAN JUAN – After responding to a viewer's tip, CHANNEL 5 NEWS discovered a trash bag filled with bank statements, prescription receipts and other sensitive information behind a San Juan supermarket.

The bag was lying in the road. It came from a Rio Grande Valley household. Every piece of mail carried the same last name.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS contacted the family directly for reaction. They declined an on-camera interview.

Sergeant Bernie Garza of the Weslaco Police Department told CHANNEL 5 NEWS people could find themselves in a difficult situation if their personal information falls into the wrong hands.

"With the holiday season that we're getting into right now, somebody with some ill intention, using that information, can open all kinds of different credit lines somewhere else and you're not going to find out until after the holiday season," said Garza.

He recommends cutting or shredding sensitive documents before disposing of them.

"You know you're already throwing it away, it's in a garbage bag," said Garza. "But you know it has important information. There's some bank statements and some medical receipts with the prescription information. That should be cut up and torn up, at the minimum."

Garza told CHANNEL 5 NEWS he's speaking from experience as a victim of identity theft.

"I was going to Pan-Am when they broke into my car," said Garza. "A couple years later already I'm working, I get slammed by the IRS. Boom! Unclaimed income. Somebody was using Social Security Number."

He encourages Valley residents to keep an eye on their credit history.

Many online credit check agencies allow you to monitor your score and lines of credit for free.

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