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Protect yourself from "Dumpster Divers"

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As the saying goes one man's trash can be another man's treasure - especially if that 'man' is trying to steal your identity. Brunswick County Sheriff Ron Hewett describes dumpster divers as "individuals who go through people's trash looking for driver's license numbers, date of birth, all of these are essential for a person to steal someone's identity and use it for financial gain." Sheriff Hewett has handled numerous cases of identity theft. He says these types of thieves aren't just after money. He and other local law enforcement officers say they've seen dumpster divers obtain driver's licenses, utility services and cell phone accounts under victims' names. Wilmington police detective paul verzaal says he's seen an especially extreme case. "A person wound up posing as the owner of a house and wound up selling that house to someone else," Verzaal said. Detective Verzaal says most victims wind up with their credit ruined. He and Sheriff Hewett agree that in the long run, it's better to try and avoid the problem in the first place. "It's a tremendous, for lack of a better word, hastle, to get back their credit, get the word out that it was not them," says Hewett. Verzaal adds, "I would urge everybody to invest 50-100 dollars in a shredder and shred every type of document, credit card applications, anything that might have your personal information on it." You can help protect yourself from being a victim by joining NewsChannel 3 on Saturday for Shred-It. It takes place at SunTrust Bank on Oleander Drive in Wilmington, near Independence Mall. Bring all your personal or business documents, they'll be shredded while you watch. The event runs from 10-to-2.

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