Shredding documents to stop ID theft

HERNANDO – The convenience of technology in today’s society has helped to make life easier. 

But that convenience has also come at some cost, with one example being the rising issue of identity theft in the United States.   

Having personal information so readily available has aided thieves who can access account numbers and steal from you, without you even knowing it is happening, until it is too late and in many cases without leaving a trace. 

Identity theft takes many forms, but one way thieves can attack is by going through your trash and learning your personal information through bank statements, invoices and other documents you simply throw away.

Friday, Guaranty Bank Trust Company’s Hernando branch hosted a Shred Day, where the public could come to bring those papers and have them shredded in a truck brought in by Secure Shred, LLC. 

Kristy Hopper, Hernando branch manager, said Friday morning that residents were keeping the truck busy shredding important documents they had brought to the bank’s McIngvale Road location. 

“This is a community service that we offer,” Hopper said. “The community can come out and shred their personal documents, business documents, anything that contains any personal information that needs to be destroyed.” 

Hopper said this was the fourth year that the bank has hosted a “Shred Day” event at their location. 

Papers that are ripe for identity thieves are anything with a name, social security number, credit card number or other financial account information. 

That information can be used for all sorts of fraud, such as credit card fraud, phone or utilities fraud, bank fraud and government documents fraud, such as getting a driver’s license or official identification card issued in your name with their photo. 

Experts say the best way to find out if your identity is stolen is through constant monitoring of account statements and bank statements, and then destroying those documents through shredding when it is time to discard them. 

Simply tearing up the documents and then tossing them into the wastebasket is not enough, said Hopper.

“Ripping it up is not shredding,” she said. “These papers need to be shredded.” 

Such was the case for Emma McMaster of Southaven, who said she brought in two year’s worth of documents for Friday’s Shred Day. 

“I like to get rid of my personal stuff this way,” McMaster said. “This is very convenient.” 

Experts add identity theft is very serious because it is difficult to predict how long the effects may linger.

The type of theft involved, and whether the thief sold or passed your information on to others, along with the problems connected with adjustments to your credit report may factor in to the length of time victims may have to deal with the theft. 

Bob Bakken: or call 662-429-6397, Ext. 240. 

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