Mid-Missourians shred documents in light of identity theft

3 years 9 months 1 week ago Friday, October 03 2014 Oct 3, 2014 Friday, October 03, 2014 6:35:00 AM CDT October 03, 2014 in News
By: Eduardo Gonzalez, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - An event Saturday aims at educating people about the dangers of not properly disposing of documents with personal information on them. Mike Harrison, the Regional Director of the Mid-Missouri Better Business Bureau said the event hosted will stress the importance of shredding the documents, making it hard for any attempts of stealing any information on those documents.

"If you rip it apart you might leave some information on there, it doesn't take them much. They can get your name, they can get your address, thins like that," he said. "So when you shred that, basically it completely destroys your information so that a thief can't get it and tape it back together."

Officials recommend shredding anything that contains financial information, account numbers, PINs, birth dates, or Social Security numbers. Harrison said documents containing sensitive information should be handled with extreme care.

"If you are mailing bills or you're paying for anything you want to make sure that you actually go down to the post office to drop that off," he said. "Don't put it in your mailbox because identity thieves can come by and steal that information. And the other thing is don't throw it away, don't rip it up."

Recent data security breaches at stores around the country caused headaches for many who may have lost money as a result. Jimmy John's and Home Depot are two of those companies that suffered breaches, leading to the credit card information of their customers to be stolen. Jimmy John's said in September that 216 stores, including some in mid-Missouri, were affected by the data breach. 

"With a Jimmy Johns or a Home Depot or last year with Target, you'll get scammers that will take advantage of consumers' fears and so they will call them on the phone and basically say that your credit card has been frozen and we need to confirm your information before we can open the account back up," Harrison said. "That's a huge red flag."

Another form of fraud that has surged in 2014 is a scheme in which consumers receive calls from people claiming to be with tax agencies in other states to inform the people of unfiled tax returns.

Harrison said the threats lead people to volunteer their personal information, which then leads to individuals stealing those identities. Other forms target children on social media, by luring them to click on links that then sends their information to the wrong people.

Harrison said there are certain things consumers should be on the look out for like
unauthorized charges or withdrawals on your credit card or on your bank statements.

"Contact bank or credit card company to close the account. Check the three credit bureaus to see if any to see if any credit has been opened in your name," he said.

He said if people think they have shopped at a location where there has been a data breach, they need to call those credit card companies or call their bank to let them know that they went to that location and place some sort of red flag on that account.

The Better Business Bureau will host an event Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Lucky's Market where people will be able to shred their documents. 

[Editor's Note: This story has been updated for clarity and style.]

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