Identity theft is crippling to its victims, and recovery can be a long and frustrating process. And according to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, complaints are on the rise: up 22% from 2007, with more than 5,400 cases reported last year.
How can you protect yourself? One easy way is to take the time to shred old documents. Shredding can dramatically reduce your risk of falling prey to identity thieves.
Join us in Springfield
On Saturday, April 10, AARP Massachusetts will sponsor “Fight Fraud - Shred Instead” in support of Create The Good from 9 am to 12 pm in the Basketball Hall of Fame parking lot (1000 West Columbus Avenue, Springfield – off Route 91). A mobile shredder truck will process documents for recycling. You can bring up to three medium sized boxes, or one large garbage bag.
For more information about the event, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saving important files
Not sure what to keep or shred? Certain bank, financial, household and medical documents should be filed or a minimum number of years before shredding.
More ways to protect yourself
In addition to shredding, many simple precautions can help keep your information safe, including:
- Avoid carrying personal documents like Social Security cards, birth certificates or passports, and carry as few credit cards as possible.
- Be aware of others who are nearby when you're using PIN numbers, and never discard an ATM receipt in a public wastebasket.
- Don't give credit card or bank account numbers over the phone, through the mail or over the Internet without confirming you are dealing with an actual representative of a legitimate business.
- Secure personal information at home, especially when having work done by strangers.
- Be extra careful about revealing information online at social networking sites, chat rooms, genealogy or class reunion sites.
For more information
Have you been a victim of identity theft? You can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office online or by calling the Consumer Hotline at (617) 727-8400. You can also contact the Federal Trade Commission's toll-free ID Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338.