NEW YORK, April 26, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New Yorkers took a swipe against crime today, helping protect themselves from potential identity thieves by dumping trucks-full of sensitive personal documents for shredding as part of "Shred Fest 2016," a series of free events sponsored by AARP and New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's Office.
Attorney General Schneiderman and AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel launched the initiative today with a press conference at a Shred Fest event in Hell's Kitchen, where they warned consumers about the growing problem of ID theft and provided important tips on how to protect themselves. Joining AARP and the Attorney General at the press conference were New York State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and C. Alicia Georges, the President Elect of AARP's Board of Directors.
The event was the first of seven being held in New York City and among 16 being held across New York State. A total of over 90 events are taking place in 39 states across the nation this week as part of Money Smart Week®
Identity theft is a pernicious problem. Every two seconds someone's identity is stolen; 13.1 million Americans were victimized by identity fraud; and an AARP survey of New York voters 50 and over in 2014 found more than half said they worried about identity theft – far higher than any other type of fraud (56% compared to second place credit card fraud at 39%).
Shred Fest 2016 is part of AARP's and Attorney General Schneiderman's ongoing efforts to help consumers avoid falling victim to identity theft.
"Identity thieves are constantly coming up with new and creative ways to target and take advantage of victims – especially seniors," said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. "Shredfest is an excellent opportunity to keep these scammers from getting ahold of your sensitive personal information, and I'm pleased New Yorkers took advantage of their chance to keep identity thieves at bay."
In 2015 New York State residents registered over 100,000 complaints about fraud with the Federal Trade Commission.
"Identity thieves routinely search through dumpsters and trash cans, looking to find confidential information. Our Shred Fest 2016 events are allowing consumers to discard this paperwork in a safe and secure manner," said Beth Finkel, State Director of AARP New York. "Financial fraud causes millions of dollars in losses each year. With the tax-filing season behind us, this was a great opportunity for New Yorkers to do a spring cleaning of their old financial documents and other records."
Additional Shred Fest events in New York City are taking place in Harlem, Queens, and Staten Island:
- April 26, St. John's Episcopal Church, 1333 Bay St., Staten Island, NY; 12:00 – 3:00 PM;
- April 27 Adam Clayton Powell State Office, 163 West 125th St.; NY, 11:00 PM – 2:00 PM;
- April 28, Bowne Park, 32nd Ave. & 157th St., Flushing, NY; 12:00 – 3:00 PM;
- April 29, Rochdale Village Mall, 169-65 137th Ave., Jamaica, NY; 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM;
- April 29, Division Street between Eldridge St. and Forsyth St.; 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM;
- April 30, First Baptist Church, 100-10 Astoria Blvd., East Elmhurst, NY; 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM.
All events end at the listed time or until the shredding truck reaches capacity.
A full list of Shred Fest events in New York State can be found online.
For New Yorkers who can't make a Shred Fest 2016 event, security experts urge you to shred the following types of materials to avoid having sensitive information compromised:
- Old documents: Papers that carry your Social Security number, birth date, signature, account numbers, passwords or PIN numbers.
- Banking: Canceled or unused checks. Shred deposit slips and ATM and credit card receipts, once you receive your monthly statements.
- Credit Cards: Preapproved credit card applications and incentive/gift checks from credit card companies.
- Medical: unneeded medical bills.
- Investments: Investment account statements.
- Obsolete ID cards: Expired driver's licenses, medical insurance cards and passports.
For those consumers who use a home shredder, experts also recommend the use of a micro-cut model. Tests have shown that the scraps of paper from a straight or cross-cut shredder can be reassembled by identity thieves. With a micro-cut shredder, the paper is rendered into impossible-to-reassemble debris.
More information on how to keep yourself safe from identity theft fraud, and alerts regarding other types of scams, is available from the Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/FraudWatchNetwork.
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SOURCE AARP New York