Neighbors Shredding Documents to Protect Against Identity Theft

By: Olivia Fecteau Email
By: Olivia Fecteau Email

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – With the prevalence of identity theft, it’s more important than ever to keep your electronic and paper documents safe.

“They can use anything to access your personal information,” Marie Redd said.

That’s why Redd brought six carloads of boxes, containing old paper documents and records, to Huntington’s first Shred Day, sponsored by the Better Business Bureau on Saturday. Her husband is an attorney with his own practice, and the couple has records dating back to the 1980s.

“You have to really be safe and this is one of the best ways to do it,” Frank Cilona, president of the Canton chapter of the Better Business Bureau, said.

Cilona said that since the event utilized professional shredders, the people who brought their documents to be shredded Saturday didn’t need to black out any information on their documents.

“Thieves cannot really Dumpster dive and get into your personal belongings through your garbage,” Cilona said. “It’s really just a matter of making sure you take all those important documents, keep them together and bring them here. We offer the opportunity for you to watch and if you want to watch and make sure your stuff is shredded, you can.”

Redd took advantage of that and watched her documents get shredded in a large truck.

“Anything that has any pertinent information on it, even if it's just your full name and address, it’s important that you destroy it,” she said.

Redd said her information has been compromised before using credit cards or the Internet.

“They'll hack into your system, no matter how secure you think your information on the internet is,” she said.

It’s a good idea, Cilona said, to avoid giving out personal information unless you have to – especially if someone calls you on the phone and asks for it.

“Don't ever accept a phone call or talk to people that call you and ask for that information,” he said. “if you call a bank or you call an organization, and you have to offer up your social security number, your date of birth and things like that, that’s fine. But if someone were to call you, I would be very wary of giving that information out.”

On the Internet, Cilona cautions against unfamiliar websites.

“Be careful. Make sure you know the site and you trust the site that you’re working with to make sure that it’s a respectable site,” Cilona said.

Even though he takes his own advice, Cilona said he and his wife have had their credit card information compromised before. He said he’s grateful he had protection from his bank.

“They determined that there were some really odd transactions going on,” Cilona said. “They contacted us and said, ‘Hey, you know, there’s something going on, is this really you?’ And it wasn’t, so it really helped to have that credit card protection.”

He added, “It happened to us and I’m the president of the Bureau, so it can happen to anybody.”

Cilona’s biggest tip to people: “Don’t give out any personal information unless you really, really need to.”

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