As AARP launches its second annual Operation: Stop Scams, a new AARP survey finds that almost half of consumers ignore experts’ recommendations to regularly shred their sensitive financial records. The five weeks of antifraud activities, sponsored by AARP offices in more than 35 states, include more than 150 paper-shredding events, fraud education programs (popularly referred to as “scam jams"), AARP Fraud Watch Network background presentations, tele-town halls and phone bank call-out sessions to warn consumers of the latest scams. Consumers can find their closest local event at www.aarp.org/OperationStopScams.
In AARP’s recent poll on tax fraud and identity theft issues, 80 percent of respondents agreed that shredding paperwork that contains Social Security numbers, birth dates and financial account numbers is “very” or “extremely” important. Yet 34 percent admitted that they shred just “rarely” or “sometimes.” Twelve percent said they have never shredded such documents.
With tax-filing season past, “it’s a great time to clear out and discard obsolete financial documents. Our shredding events in dozens of communities provide a convenient and safe way for people to destroy this sensitive paperwork,” said Jean Setzfand, senior vice president of programs at AARP. “April also brings the personal finance awareness activities of Money Smart Week, so we’re excited to do our part with events to teach consumers to be smart about avoiding fraud and scams.”
Money Smart Week, April 21-28, is a collaboration between thousands of organizations across the United States that offer financial education programs designed to help consumers learn to better manage their personal finances.