Shredding event raises identity theft awareness

POULSBO — It takes just a few simple clicks of a mouse, and the gateway to personal information can swing wide open through the public passageways of the Internet. With a name and address, enough knowledge can be found for accounts to be opened, items purchased, and havoc wreaked on a person’s life.

As identity theft crimes continue to rise, victimizing an estimated 40 percent of the population, document destruction company Turbo Shred, Inc. is hoping to increase safety measures taken here in North Kitsap.

And the company is making it easy to do.

A community shredding event is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 21 at 219 NW Beaver Ridge Ln., will offer individuals a chance to securely discard sensitive documents, a service usually reserved for larger businesses.

“The industry is mainly tailored to businesses, so we’re trying to have more options for consumers,” said Turbo Shred office manager Lucas Yoder. “People are realizing they need to do things with their documents. There’s been so much information about that lately. Everywhere you turn you hear something bad.”

Lucas said there has been a large increase in the volume of individual consumers or small business owners calling for information on shredding. While there is normally a minimum limit on what the company will accept, this event allows those with smaller amounts of sensitive documents to also take precautions.

“If you don’t need to keep it, don’t keep it,” he said. “That’s kind of the idea.”

Poulsbo Police Detective Grant Romaine agreed.

“If you don’t need it, don’t use it, get rid of it,” he said. “People have to realize more now than before that they have to secure their information.”

Romaine said aside from the obvious documents that contain Social Security and account numbers, birth dates, passwords, personal identification numbers and signatures, even basic junk mail shouldn’t be tossed lightly.

There is more information in that junk mail than most would assume, he said.

Romaine also pointed out computer disks and credit cards as items that need actual shredding. He said simply cutting them in half won’t prevent an identity thief from gleaning the information they hold, and recommended a crosscut shredder, which can be found for around $30, to anyone who wants to take a step further in protecting themselves.

“Think of it as an insurance policy,” he said.

Romaine also suggested investing in a lockable mailbox or post office box. He said as the holidays approach, identity theft crimes will heighten, and while the law takes the problem seriously, sentences are often not as hard as he’d like them to be, making it all the more important for individuals to take initiative themselves.

“A lot of times people don’t realize they’re the victim of identity theft,” he said. “The shred-a-thon is a good start.”

For more information on the Community Shredding Event, call Turbo Shred, Inc. at (360) 598-5400.

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