Curbing identity theft

- By:

Courtesy of Shred-Tech Corp.

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Judith Angelos was shocked her personal information was left sitting outside on a Northville curb.

Appraisal documents with her name, address and other personal information were inside 28 boxes of information lining the street Tuesday morning outside of Steven J. Kirk & Assoc. in downtown Northville.

The boxes on Rayson Street contained real estate appraisal reports, social security numbers, signatures, check receipts and purchase agreements.

Steve Kirk, proprietor of Steven J. Kirk & Assoc., a real estate appraisal firm, said the boxes were placed outside Monday night for a Tuesday morning garbage pickup.

He did not expect someone would look inside the boxes.

'They are old appraisals that are more than seven years old, so I put them out for the garbage.' he said. 'I've never been told to shred them. Hindsight now tells me I probably should have.'

Kirk is a member of the City of Northville Planning Commission. He said he has been using garbage disposal as a method of document destruction for quite some time without a problem.

Angelos had never done business with the Northville firm, but the seller of her South Lyon home had retained the appraiser's services.

'I'm very concerned,' Angelos said. 'I would think they would be like medical records. There should be laws that say someone should have to shred personal information.'

Dale Smith, executive officer of the Western Wayne Oakland County Association of REALTORS, recommends all businesses remain diligent with personal records.

'If you use that type of information or gather that type of information then you have to make provisions for safe disposal,' he said.

Smith recommends shredding client information pursuant to appropriate disposal guidelines.

Kirk said he complies with guidelines requiring appraisers keep documents for a minimum of five years.

Bob Durham, business manager of DC Document Destruction in Canton, said he has experienced an increase in business and residential clientele requesting his services.

'People have an awareness of how easy identity theft has become, Durham said.

The business owner said with recent strides in Internet safety, identity thieves are returning to their roots.

'They are going back to Dumpster diving and mailbox theft,' he said.

The Canton business offers on- and off-site shredding services. The business also sells locked paper disposal bins for safety in between service dates.

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