Salvage yards a treasure chest for identity thieves - CBS46 News

Salvage yards a treasure chest for identity thieves

Posted: Updated:

When's the last time you looked through the glove box in your car? Do you know what's in there, or what you have crammed away inside the center console? We are referring to information, the kind identity thieves thrive on.

A report by the Consumer Sentinel Network ranks Georgia second in the nation for identity theft. Metro Atlanta and Sandy Springs rank eighth for metro cities in the U.S. A salvage yard doesn't seem like a good place for thieves to start, but it is.

CBS46's Harry Samler, AKA "Pothole Harry," decided to spend a few days digging around.  When a driver totals his or her car, the majority of the time, the tow truck hauls it off, and that's the last time it's seen. Either the victim doesn't think about it, or doesn't have the opportunity to retrieve his or her personal belongings.

Minutes into the search, Harry found personal information. Insurance cards were the most common, followed by utility bills. Almost every car searched contained enough information for thieves to open a fraudulent credit card account. Among the items found, paycheck stubs, employment applications a warrant for an arrest and a tax return.

Finding the information was easy enough. Making a change turned out to be almost as easy.

CBS46 contacted one the largest auto salvage providers in the southeast. It has 27 locations throughout the U.S. As a result, the company decided to change its policy at every store.  A spokesman says all personal information is now being removed before it is available to the general public.

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.