Junkyard dive: Scrap yards a treasure trove for identity thieves

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — One man's scrap could be an identity thief's treasure.

We found all sorts of personal information while searching through wrecked cars at Memphis Auto Parts and Salvage.

From bills with the person's name, address and account number to a citation with someone's name, address, date of birth and driver's license number.

We even found a valid Tennessee ID that doesn't expire until 2024.

But what we got out of one car will really shock you.

It's a medical document of sorts that has the man's name and Social Security number on it — the key to his identity.

"I don't think people ought to leave stuff like that in a car, said Deryal Graham. "You know, it's just like I say, anything could happen."

Graham says he sees it all the time.

"Everyday. I mean it's surprising. You find all kinds of money, stuff I can't believe people leave in these cars."

people who come here search cars for parts, something an identity thief could easily pretend to do while secretly snatching sensitive documents.

"Put it in your pocket. You know, we're not the police so we can't put you against the wall and do you like that."

This salvage yard buys wrecked cars from places like auctions and wrecker services. But Tennessee law doesn`t require they be cleaned out. It's like that in Mississippi and Arkansas too.

Bottom line — it's up to you. If you wreck your car make sure you get all your personal ID, whatever it is you want out of the car.

Seventy-five percent of the cars they get aren't cleaned out. Employees wait a week before doing it themselves, and they try to get things like this back to their owners if they can.

"We'll try to get a hold of the individual right there and call them and see if they got a working telephone number and if not, the only thing you can do is call the police and let them come by and pick it up," said David Lewers with Memphis Auto Parts and Salvage.

and here`s one more piece of advice if you wreck your car: Make sure you get your tags off your car.

A lot of people come through and steal tags, and then commit a crime or have an accident with another person's tags on the car.