Protect Your Identity At BBB ‘Shred Day,’ April 15 At Saint Louis Galleria

  
     
March 06, 2017

ShredDay2017St. Louis, Mo., Mar. 7, 2017 – According to a study conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research, identity fraud hit a record high with 15.4 million U.S. victims in 2016, up 16 percent from 2015. Considering the rising numbers of identity theft, it is important to safeguard your personal information in as many ways as possible. Better Business Bureau’s “Shred Day” offers one easy way to safely dispose of sensitive but outdated materials.

This year’s BBB Shred Day, held in conjunction with the Consumer Fraud Task Force, is Saturday, April 15, at Saint Louis Galleria, which is at Interstate 64 and Brentwood Boulevard in Richmond Heights, Mo.

Consumers can shred 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. American Document Destruction is donating the shredding service.

 “Shredding outdated personal documents can limit your exposure to ID theft,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO. “ID theft schemes are becoming more and more sophisticated, and vigilance in handling your personal information is now a priority.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, over 8,000 Missouri consumers filed ID theft complaints in 2016. At 136.1 complaints per 100,000 residents, Missouri ranked eighth in the nation for ID theft complaints. Illinois consumers filed over 17,000 ID theft complaints in 2016. At 138 complaints per 100, 000 residents, Illinois ranked fifth in the nation for ID theft complaints. Missouri residents filed a total of 51,342 complaints about identity theft, fraud and other issues while 91,489 complaints came from Illinois.

In 2015, the St. Louis metropolitan area ranked first nationally in complaints filed with FTC related to identity theft, but fell to fourth in 2016. This change comes after a concerted campaign by BBB to educate consumers about identity theft through public service announcements, social media postings and digital advertising.

BBB’s Scam Tracker is another great resource for researching ID Theft trends. As reported by national Scam Tracer statistics for the last year, ID theft cost consumers a total of $949,365.73 with a median loss of $200. Credit card was the top method of payment for losses. Go to BBB’s Scam Tracker to report ID theft scams or learn about scams that are trending in your area.

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 has 10 steps you can take to protect your identity:

  1. 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.
  2. Cut up expired credit and debit cards. Make sure you cut through the numbers.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Minimize personal information printed on checks. You don’t need to include your Social Security number, driver’s license or phone number.
  6. Monitor bank and credit card accounts for unauthorized transactions. Crooks may start with small transactions to see if you notice.
  7. Pay attention to billing cycles. If bills don’t arrive on time, follow up with your creditors.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

For more information on protecting your identity or to check out a BBB Business Profile or charity review, contact BBB at www.bbb.org or 314-645-3300. 

To learn more about substandard business practices in your area, keep up-to-date with BBB’s most recent press releases:

  • Read about a BBB accreditation expulsion here.
  • Read about fly-by-night disaster contractors here.
  • Read about spring break travel scams here.

 

St. Louis Area Media Contacts: Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, (314) 584-6743 or (314) 681-4719 (cell), cthetford@stlouisbbb.org

Shellie Kreter, PR & Communications Manager, (314) 584-6723 or (314) 348-5451 (cell), skreter@stlouisbbb.org

Columbia media contact: Sean Spence, Columbia Regional Director, (573) 886-8965, sspence@columbiabbb.org

Cape Girardeau media contact: Joey Keys, Cape Girardeau Regional Director, (573) 803-3191, jkeys@capegirardeaubbb.org

Quincy media contact: Mara Clingingsmith, BBB Quincy Regional Director, (217) 209-3972 or (217) 242-6272 (cell), mclingingsmith@quincybbb.org

About BBB

BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more information.