Your Goodwill donations could make you a target for thieves

Do you always double check the pockets of clothes and other items you donate? You should, because you might be donating your identity to thieves.

“We see credit cards; we see passports, birth certificates, social security cards, tax information,” says Travis Carlson with Goodwill of Denver.

Sensitive documents, often with personal information, are accidentally left in donations delivered to places like Goodwill.

“We see things tucked inside bed sheets, inside books, little boxes,” says Carlson. “Often times, we think people think they just forgot about it; they didn't know it was inside that item. Or perhaps they’re donating something on behalf of a family member who passed away. We see that a lot, unfortunately.”

Different Goodwill stores have different policies, but the Goodwill of Denver in Colorado has a loss prevention box at their locations.

“We have all kinds of credit cards, driver’s licenses, certificates, checks, things like that,” says Carlson.

But experts say you shouldn't rely on the donation site to safely dispose of personal information. In fact, you could be putting yourself at serious risk.

Colorado's Attorney General Cynthia Coffman runs a consumer fraud unit. She says all someone needs, is a small piece of information. Once they have that, they can usually find more and use that information to impersonate you to get, for example, a loan or even obtain costly medical services.

“Folks just need to be very wary,” Coffman says. “And I don't like to scare people, but I do want them to be very self-conscious about keeping that personal information confidential."

Bottom line, the team at Goodwill says to always go through your donations before dropping the goods off.

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