The fight against identity thieves is endless, as AARP New York knows — and the free shredding events it sponsored with Schneps Media this spring were just one way the organization is combating criminals targeting New York’s seniors.
Between April 26 and May 20, AARP New York and Schneps Media held seven shredding events across the Five Boroughs along with Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island, enabling hundreds of people to safely destroy their sensitive information and keep them out of the hands of criminals.
Identity thieves are known to mine through receptacles looking for receipts and personal documents to help commit their fraudulent crimes, which makes shredding anything containing your sensitive information so important.
AARP New York is relentless in its efforts to protect New Yorkers, and particularly seniors, from identity thieves, and the shredding events were only one step in their mission.
Bernard Macias, associate state director for the Long Island division of AARP New York, said the Long Island shredding events have proven quite successful out east.
“Well, we are very proud of the shredding events on Long Island. This year, so far, over 900 individuals on Long Island have come to these events with old documents that have identifying info that we shred in a safe and secure manner,” Macias said. “This way, consumers can prevent fraud. The folks that come to these events are very grateful.”
Beyond scheduled shredding events, the public can take steps on their own to protect themselves from identity theft when discarding personal information. It’s important to always thoroughly shred items such as tax information; investment records; bank statements; cancelled checks; pay stubs; ATM and credit card receipts; credit card statements; insurance information; utility bills; and more.
Macias said AARP New York will continue to be proactive in helping New Yorkers keep their information safe. The organization is also working to stay a step ahead of the criminals.
“Just like fraudsters, we will be vigilant and stay up to date on the latest schemes. We pass that information to the consumer so they have the best recent info on what to watch out for, from dating scams to IRS scams,” Macias said. “So, visit our website at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork to learn more about the latest scams in your area. If you think you have fallen victims to a scam or need assistance, call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 1-877-908-3360.”
The Fraud Watch Network, free and available to anyone, connects callers to reliable, up-to-date insights, alerts, and fraud prevention resources to help you spot and avoid scams and protect your loved ones. Trained fraud specialists are also available to provide support and guidance on what to do next and how to avoid scams in the future.
You can also sign up with the AARP to receive biweekly “Watchdog Alerts” to learn how scams work and how to avoid them. Or, sign up for our Watchdog Alerts by texting FWN to 50757.
Also, here are some tips from the AARP on how to respond to identity theft:
If someone close to you is scammed, it’s important to react with empathy. Don’t blame the victim. Instead, help them file complaints, deal with their financial institutions and work with law enforcement to catch the culprit.
Keep an eye on your accounts for anything suspicious. If you see something that concerns you, contact your bank or credit card company immediately. If you lost money, you can also contact your local police department.
Credit Report Freeze
Monitor your credit reports. To order free copies of your reports from the three major credit bureaus, go to www.annualcreditreport.com or 877-322-8228.
If you suspect fraud, you should freeze your credit reports. Scammers can open credit card accounts, bank accounts, and loans in other names. A freeze restricts access to credit reports and prevents new accounts from being opened. You’ll create a PIN, which is needed to lift the freeze before you can open any new accounts.
Here are the companies:
- Experian: (888) 397-3742, P.O. Box 9530 Allen, TX 75013, www.experian.com/freeze
- Equifax: (800) 685-1111, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374, www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services
- Trans Union:(888) 909-8872, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA19016, www.transunion.com/credit-freeze