Fraudwatch: Don’t forget to shred sensitive personal information

Posted at 5:48 PM, May 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-13 14:54:16-04

HELENA – Scammers are always looking for ways to get a hold of your personal information which is why it’s essential to get rid of any old personal documents lying around the house. However, experts warn that even throwing out that sensitive information isn’t enough.

Tim Summers, State Director for AARP of Montana, said scammers don’t need much information to start causing trouble. Anything with account information, social security numbers and bank numbers can put you at risk.

“All they need are a few vital pieces of information. If they can get a hold of those, they could open an account in your name or do something in your name that could cause you harm and damage years into the future,” Summers said.

According to Summers, the best way to protect yourself is to shred any privileged information to prevent it from falling into the hands of scammers. Shredding is the best technique, he said, because scammers aren’t above going through trashcans to glean any personal information.

Bank statements, old checkbooks, past tax returns are all examples of things AARP recommends putting through the shredder. For the sensitive information that you may need to reference in the future, Summers recommends finding a secure place.

“We all have documents that we need to safeguard – like our most recent tax returns. Keep them in a safe place under lock and key that you and your loved ones can get a hold of,” Summers said.

A recent AARP study found most people agree shredding is important, but nearly half don’t follow through. While it may be time consuming, making sure your information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands could save you a head ache in the long run.

On Saturday May 5 you can shred your documents for free in Helena. AARP is hosting a shredding event in the Home Depot parking lot from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Last year AARP hosted shredding events across the country as part of “Operation: Stop Scams”. Over 1 million pounds of sensitive documents were destroyed.