Millions of Americans have their identities stolen each year. Rebuilding your identity and credit history after thieves strike is a long, frustrating task.
It's much easier to take preventative steps to keep your personal information secure.
One easy step that helps protect your identity is to shred any documents containing personal information that would be attractive to identity thieves. Of course, if you have a shredder at home, you can shred documents whenever you like. Other people let the documents pile up, sometimes years of tax returns, bank statements, and credit card bills.
Why Destroy Your Documents?
Not destroying your information can be a huge mistake, especially if that information falls into the wrong hands. Any documents that include your Social Security number can be pure gold for identity thieves.
"Identity theft is actually the fastest-growing, illegal activity in the world, not just in the country, not just in Michigan, but in the world," said Melanie Duquesnel, CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Southfield.
She says it's must easier to safely destroy your personal information, compared to reclaiming your identity of it's stolen. "When you identity is stolen it can take, on average, 18 to 24 months to reclaim what you can. Some parts of it are not reclaimable."
"Secure Your ID Day" Details
The Better Business Bureau "Secure Your ID Day" will be held on Saturday, September 26th from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Better Business Bureau is located at 26777 Central Park Blvd. Southfield, MI, 48076. The office is located in the City Center complex at the first light west of Evergreen Road, south of Eleven Mile, and off of I-696 Service Drive.
You must be in line by 12:30 p.m. in order to participate. The company Shred-it will be on hand to shred up to three boxes or bags of personal information at no charge. Please make sure all the contents are paper, they are dry, and there's not trash or other items in the boxes or bags.
There will be a $10 per box/bag charge if you have more than three. The proceeds support the BBB Educational Foundation.
You can also destroy cellphones, old computers and other electric gadgets. Global Electric Electronic Processing (GEEP) will be on hand to help with those items.
"We have Department of Defense hard drive destruction protocol," said Duquesnel.
Finally, representatives from Greenpath Debt Solutions will be on hand to educate about their services and schedule one-on-one counseling sessions for those in need.
It should not take too long to get through the line, according to Duquesnel, "We have such a flow about it, that you shouldn't be in line for more than 15 to 20 minutes."
What to Shred, What to Save
Some of you might have questions about what to shred and what you should keep for your personal records.
What to save:
1) IRS records for about 7 years.
2) Marriage license or divorce papers
3) Lawsuit records
4) Mortgage documents
5) Immigration papers
What to shred:
1) Bank statements
2) Credit card statements
3) Utility bills
4) Pay Stubs (that you no longer need for tax purposes)
5) ATM receipts
You can follow these links for more information on what to shred, and the schedule for how long to keep certain items.