Recently there was an article where a woman was able to purchase 39 pounds of personal information from a Goodwill Outlet. This was a compilation of all the family records, including Social Security Numbers, Divorce Papers, medical and dental records among many other personal records.
I have purchased items from the Goodwill myself with personal items in them. Usually they are unimportant such as wrapped gum, lip gloss, hair pins, etc. However recently my husband discovered two credit cards in the pocket of a dress shirt. Even though they were expired, there was a name and an account number on them. Unscrupulous people can use that information to find out more about an individual. One Goodwill store found out it’s own employees were selling personal information inadvertently donated.
To protect yourself from compromising your personal family information, follow these few rules.
Every donated piece of clothing should be checked thoroughly for credit cards, scraps of paper with personal information, money and jewelry. I had an elderly friend who sewed cash into the lining of two coats in her closet. She passed on without any relatives and it fell to the church to clear out her apartment. I called the pastor to let him know about the money in the lining of the coats but alas, too late. The clothing had already been donated.
Double Check Boxes
All boxes and bags being loaded in the car should be opened and re-checked that they are the correct boxes. Sometimes people accidentally take the wrong ones from a crowded garage. It is easy to do when the donated items are moved to a garage where other boxes and bags are stored. I had a family heirloom quilt top foolishly carried home in a black trash bag. It went out with the other items I was donating a few days later. Had I checked inside every box and bag I was loading into the car, I would still have my great grandmothers Texas Star quilt top.
Check your furniture carefully
Credit cards, money, jewelry can slip down the sides of chairs and old sofas. Pull out those drawers in any desk or dresser. Most people will empty the drawers of a desk or dresser, but Items of a personal nature can fall behind them in that empty space when they are too full. Sometimes papers can slip under the drawer liners. It is best to take out every drawer and look.
Ruffle through your Books
Books can contain hidden money, but more often you will find papers used to bookmark your place. I know I have used any paper that is handy to mark my place including old bills. I have also lost a few sentimental bookmarks with pictures of my children and grandchildren carelessly left in donated books.
It is a little extra work to make sure you are not sending anything out that you shouldn’t, but well worth the time and trouble to do so. Don’t let identity theft happen to you or the loss of personal valuables. Follow my tips before donating anything, to be safe .