Identity theft warningPublished Thursday, 19th October 2017
Residents of Hartlepool are being urged to take steps to ensure they don't become victims of identity theft.
A spate of “bin raiding” incidents has sparked concern that organised attempts are being made to obtain people’s personal and financial details.
Hartlepool Council’s Community Safety and Waste and Environmental Services Teams have now joined forces to try to tackle the issue under the banner of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership.
Waste and Environmental Services Team Leader Helen Beaman said: “In recent weeks communal bins in parts of the marina have been targeted and we have also had reports from our refuse crews of similar incidents occurring in the Fens area, suggesting that the problem may be spreading throughout the town.
“Aside from the obvious security issues, this is also causing a significant environmental problem as the bin raiders leave behind a lot of mess after emptying bins out onto the street in their search for information.”
The Community Safety Team has now issued security advice to householders in the light of the “bin raiding” incidents.
In particular, it says that all letters/documents containing sensitive information should be shredded once they are no longer needed.
Victim Services Officer Lorna Hilton said: “Criminals who manage to get hold of your personal details can use them to open bank accounts and get credit cards, loans, state benefits and documents such as passports and driving licences in your name.
“If your identity is stolen you may have difficulty getting loans, credit cards or a mortgage until the matter is sorted out and that could take some time.
“I would urge people to ensure that they never put any sensitive letters or documents in the bin that could be retrieved at a later date and used for illegal purposes.”
Aside from paper documents, residents are also being advised to take a range of other measures to avoid becoming victims of identity theft.
These include securing all computers, laptops and mobile devices and only using secure sites (look for the “lock” icon) when shopping online. Email scams are also a big issue and people are advised not reply to messages, click links or open attachments from companies or others asking for personal information.
For more advice and information go to www.actionfraud.police.uk