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Unwary residents could be targets of identity theft »

December 24, 2006 — If you’re not careful what you throw in your trash, you might be throwing away your most valuable possession: your identity.

In the last two months, police report at least seven complaints from local residents whose trashcans or trash was stolen.

“This is what we commonly refer to as Dumpster diving,” police Sgt. William Dietrich said.

This sort of trash picking can be profitable.

“The suspect will obtain vital financial information by simply digging through trash,” Dietrich said. “It’s become a problem recently in the past three to four years.”

This year alone, there have been about 1,000 cases of identity theft reported to the Brownsville Police Department, Sgt. Jimmy Manrrique said.

In 2001, there were more than 100,000 cases of identity theft in the United States, and that has increased to more than 1 million cases per year, Dietrich said.

“Over a five-year period, more than 27 million consumers were victims of identity theft,” according to a Federal Trade Commission Survey conducted in 2003.

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