This year’s BBB Shred Day is Saturday, April 21, in the Office Depot Parking Lot at 111 South Providence in Columbia.
Consumers can shred up to three boxes of documents from 9 a.m. to noon. BBB asks that consumers use bags or boxes that can be shredded along with papers. Consumers will receive information on identity theft protection.
“Shredding outdated personal documents can limit your exposure to ID theft,” said Michelle Gleba, BBB Columbia regional director. “ID theft schemes are becoming more and more sophisticated, and vigilance in handling your personal information is now a priority.”
FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data
According to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, just under 5,000 Missouri consumers filed ID theft complaints in 2017. At 82 complaints per 100,000 residents, Missouri ranked 26th in the nation for ID theft complaints. Missouri residents filed a total of 39,148 complaints about identity theft, fraud and other issues.
This drop in ID theft complaints in the St. Louis region comes after a concerted campaign by BBB to educate consumers about identity theft through public service announcements, social media postings and digital advertising.
Officials recommend shredding documents that contain financial information, account numbers, PINs, birth dates, or Social Security numbers. Examples include expired ID cards, legal documents, credit card and bank statements and canceled checks.
In addition to shredding outdated or unneeded documents, BBB recommends these 10 steps to help you protect your identity:
10 steps to help you protect your identity
- Shred statements and applications you get in the mail that you don’t want to keep. These include credit card applications, insurance forms, financial statements, health forms, billing statements from utilities and phone service.
- Cut up expired credit and debit cards. Make sure you cut through the numbers.
- Protect your Social Security number, all account numbers and passwords. Don’t carry these numbers in your wallet. Give out personal identifiers only when absolutely necessary. Beware of unsolicited e-mails and phone calls if someone asks for the numbers.
- Secure personal documents at home. If you have roommates, employ outside help or have contractors in your home, make sure personal documents are in a safe place – preferably under lock and key – and not lying out in plain sight.
- Minimize personal information printed on checks. You don’t need to include your Social Security number, driver’s license or phone number.
- Monitor bank and credit card accounts for unauthorized transactions. Crooks may start with small transactions to see if you notice.
- Pay attention to billing cycles. If bills don’t arrive on time, follow up with your creditors.
- Don’t create obvious passwords. Avoid using your birth date, child’s name or birth date, mother’s maiden name or the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- If you conduct business online, use your own computer and a secure Internet connection. A public computer or public wi-fi network is less secure.
- Never use email to communicate sensitive personal information. Don’t respond to emails asking to verify your personal information and identifiers. Neither your bank, credit card company, online payment system nor the IRS will call or email asking you for confidential information. They already have it.
Tami R. Benus, CPA always keeps your data and documents safe!