I guess by now just about everyone knows you should never throw old or expired credit cards in the trash. Believe it or not there are people who eagerly go dumpster diving in hopes of finding bank statements, old bills, and yes, even credit cards. The information on any of those could help crooks steal your identity.

Protect yourself by shredding any documents with personal information on them. Disposing of paper documents is easy, but how do you safely get rid of credit cards?

Divide and conquer

You should never, ever just throw a credit card in the trash. That makes it too easy for criminal to steal your identity. Fortunately most people know to take more drastic action. But cutting a credit card in half and dumping it is not enough. Even a third grader knows how to paste things together.

Instead, chop up old cards into multiple pieces – at least four – and then put those pieces into separate trash bags. Don’t make it easy to come up with your card information.

Destroying metallic cards is harder

Of course if you carry one of the prestigious new metallic cards cutting them up is just not possible. However the issuing bank will help. Call the 800 number on the back of the card and let your issuer do the disposal for you. They’ll provide a secure means of returning the card and then they’ll do the rest.

Never burn a plastic card

While burning old credit cards may seem like a good idea to burn your credit card, don’t do it. Plastic cards will melt into a blob, but that process could be a dangerous to your health. Researchers at MIT’s School of Engineering put the idea to the test. They discovered that burning plastic can release hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, furans and a number of other toxins that definitely are not safe to breathe.

 

Image used under Creative Commons 3 from Alpha Stock Images