Shopping in Your Garbage

If you don't spend them yourself, take extra care to make sure no one else does. ID thieves are targeting people who forget convenience checks in the mailbox while they're on vacation or just throwing them away without shredding them. Police say these mistakes can make you a prime target of identity thieves.

'Tis the season to spend lots of money. Banks and credit unions across the country are issuing plenty of convenience checks to make shopping easier. Police and financial advisors are urging the public not to ignore these checks. To do so could make you a victim of identity theft!

"You definitely don't want to just throw them away because your name and address and your credit card number are on the convenience checks," says Mary Estes.

Police say once thieves get their hands on the checks, they have enough information to make fake photo ID's and then they go shopping.

"Thieves can get the latest computer software, printers, scanners and anything like that and they can produce high-quality forged identification," says SGT Riou.

If you aren't going to use the checks, there's plenty of ways to make sure no one else can.

"I tear them up immediately. I would not just throw them in the garbage. If you can, buy a scanner or burn them or tear them up like I do," says Lisa Rodriguez.

Taking these precautions could save you plenty of added stress this holiday season. Credit union officers say stolen convenience checks are like any other credit card theft. Once police reports are filed, credit unions, banks and consumers can be ruled not liable, but it's just a big hassle.

Consumers can be expecting another round of convenience checks in their mailboxes after the holidays. Credit officers tell me after the first of the year, plenty of credit card companies are looking for debt consolidation, so they'll issue checks for you to do so.