When the Better Business Bureau, Indiana State Police and U.S. Postal Service all endorse something, its probably worth paying attention.
Those organizations are joining with 3Rivers Federal Credit Union and Iron Mountain Records Management to offer consumers free document shredding next month during National Consumer Protection Week.
Marjorie Stephens, spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau for northern Indiana, said shredding unneeded documents keeps them out of the hands of identity thieves.
There are still Dumpster divers people do get into garbage cans to see if there is any information they can glean, such as a Social Security number, she said Friday.
An identity thief could respond to a discarded credit card offer, activate the card and direct bills to another address, Stephens said. The victim could end up with thousands of dollars of merchandise charged in his name.
One of the best ways to prevent that from happening is to register with consumer credit bureau Experians opt-out service to stop credit card offers from arriving in the first place, Stephens said. Call 888-567-8688 to join the list.
The Direct Marketing Association also offers consumers the opportunity to reduce the amount of junk mail they receive. To remove your name from various mailing lists, go to www.DMAchoice.org.
Im telling you, I dont get a lot of junk mail at all, Stephens said. Using this is great.
For documents that do need to be shredded – including bank statements more than 3 years old and expired contracts more than 7 years old – the service will be offered free March 6.
A similar event last June resulted in 11,500 pounds of paper being destroyed, Stephens said.
The local BBB office offers consumers a one-page, IRS-issued guide for how long various documents should be kept. Contact the office at 423-4433 to request a copy.
Several types of documents should be kept permanently, including tax returns, audit reports and canceled checks for important payments, including taxes, property purchases and special contracts.
Melissa Shaw, 3Rivers spokeswoman, said the local credit union expects to offer free shredding three times this year. The other two sessions have not been scheduled.
3Rivers will also distribute information in the lobby on March 5 to help protect its members and others from identity theft.