Posted: Robert Siciliano | December 22, 2015


Junkyard Identity Theft

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That guy rummaging through a junkyard could soon be sailing in his own yacht while his chef prepares lobster for him. That's because he's not looking for scrap metal to sell, but personal information about people that has been left behind in those heaps of metal-sensitive data that he'll use to commit identity theft and financial fraud.

An article on reports that salvage yards are filled with the remnant metal of totaled vehicles, but with totaled vehicles comes the loot inside glove compartments and elsewhere, left behind by the owners.

Think of all the sensitive information about you that's right now inside your car. The article quotes Stuart Rapaport of Grand Rapids Auto Salvage Yard: "It's shocking what's left in vehicles."

Your car should not be your filing cabinet. One car at the salvage yard contained keys and a driver's address. At another junkyard, stacks of personal information were sitting on the front seat of a car. This included a bank statement and credit union statement, the latter exposing the accountholder's information and account numbers. This treasure trove of a junked car also contained tax information.

It's 10 p.m.: Do you know what's inside your car?

If your car were to be totaled in a crash tomorrow with you being whisked to a hospital in bad shape and unable to retrieve items from your mangled car...just what's in there that could be of value to an identity thief? Hmmm, that probably never occurred to you.

The owner of this particular vehicle was contacted, states the article, and is quoted as saying: "I feel violated knowing that somebody else has that information on me, very much so."

The ID thief isn't necessarily someone coming onto the lot; it could be a worker there. Salvage yards are supposed to empty vehicles, but they don't always do this. And not all salvage yards supervise customers.

Fact is, at many junkyards, visitors are free to roam around unsupervised and search inside vehicles, and you can bet that many are searching for paper, not metal.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to discussing identity theft prevention.


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