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You have to shred, shred, shred to keep your identity and financial information safe, and AARP wants to help people get a handle on it all with Shred Fest 2016. It is a series of document shredding festivities in neighborhoods around the country during Money Smart Week starting on April 23 and running through April 30.
This is a timely reminder considering that in 2015 nearly half a million people contacted the Federal Trade Commission about identity theft, representing a 47% upswing when compared to 2014.The events are sponsored by the AARP Fraud Watch Network and the AARP Foundation, and features over 90 free Shred Fest events happening in 37 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
It was designed to coincide with the the end of tax season and the spring cleaning season, so people do it safely. And, yes, that means getting out the shredder. "Once the tax-filing season is behind us, many taxpayers like to do a spring cleaning of their old financial statements and other records," said Nancy LeaMond, chief advocacy & engagement officer, AARP.
"That's a good idea, but remember that rifling through dumpsters and other trash receptacles is one of the main tricks of the scammer's trade. Our Shred Fest 2016 community events will allow consumers to discard sensitive documents in a safe and secure manner." Locations are listed on the AARP Fraud Watch website.
Let’s get this party started
When it comes to shredding, what to shred is just as important as actually shredding, so it’s natural to wonder what you should be getting rid of when it comes to old documents, credit card and banking information and other materials.
Experts suggest shredding:
• Paperwork that has your passwords, PIN numbers, birth date, signature, account numbers, and Social Security number
• Canceled or unused checks should be shredded along with ATM and credit card receipts, monthly statements and deposit slips
• Pre-approved credit card applications along with incentive/gift checks you receive in the mail
• Old medical bills you have on hand that you no longer need should be included
• Statements from your investment accounts
• Outdated ID cards like expired passports, insurance cards and driver's licenses
AARP will shred these for free at Shred Fest locations, but if you want to do it at home they suggest going with a micro-cut model because tests show that thieves can put shredded documents back together when people use straight or cross-cut shredders.