You have the utmost security protection on your computer, don't you? You cover the keypad at the gas pump when you enter your PIN don't you? You've taken every precaution you can think of to protect your identity from being stolen. Then you toss your confidential information into the trash can and hope no bad guys go dumpster diving for the buried treasure that is your money.

Diving through trash is how several people in Tangipahoa Parish obtained the personal information of at least 45 individuals over the past several months. An identity theft ring in that parish was recently broken up with the arrests of six people yesterday. Authorities say they are looking for two more in connection with the case too.

How did the bad guys do it? They went through other people's trash and pieced together enough information to cash in on an innocent person's identity. Police believe the bad guys would find credit card information and then bring it to an accomplice who worked at a store. The store clerk would then hand key the credit information and turn it into merchandise or gift cards the bad guys would use for their own enjoyment.

I don't find it surprising at all that some people that wouldn't mind digging through your used napkins, tissues, and thrown out cat litter in exchange for access to your credit cards. Fortunately, the good guys, Tangipahoa law enforcement, were able to catch this group of trashy people. Let's hope the courts don't find a way to screw this up and set them free.

In the meantime, I suggest you double check what you're throwing away. Bank statements, credit card statements, even applications for credit cards, and utility bills need to be shredded or otherwise made unrecognizable before they hit the garbage.

You know we didn't have this problem when we were allowed to burn our trash in our backyards did we? Wait, that's not a good idea. Just be careful, it's your identity, your money, your credit, and ultimately your financial sanity. Don't throw it away without thinking.