Youngstown residents take time to shred their past in order to protect their identity

Shred day in Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Every year, identity thieves steal $ 25 billion worth of property in the U-S.

The Department of Justice says that is more than all other property theft combined.

Many people set out today with one goal: to protect their identity

Cars lined up around the block this morning at Covelli Centre.

“Since we opened, we’ve been slammed. We’ve had over 400 cars in an hour and a half,” said Carol Potter, Better Business Bureau of the Mahoning Valley.

But it wasn’t for any event inside the arena. It was the Better Business Bureau’s 10th annual Secure Your I-D Day. People could bring old bills, papers, or anything that may have personal information on it. Volunteers shredded it for free — and organizers say it was their biggest event yet.

“I think the huge volume of scams and frauds and hacks that have been going on really have people’s attention. They get it now. They have to treat their documents responsibly,” said Potter.

“For example, those pre-approved credit card offers you get in the mail, maybe utility bills that have been paid off. Something that you no longer need, that has personal information, should be shredded,” said Melissa Ames, vice president of BBB services.

Identity theft is perhaps the biggest growing problem for consumers across the state of Ohio. Last year, it made the attorney general’s top ten list of consumer complaints for the first time, more than doubling between 2013 and 2014.

So what can you do to stay safe?

“We do recommend that you use a cross-cut shredder that shreds it into confetti-size pieces. That way no one can get a hold of your information,” said Ames.

But what about the information that doesn’t get on paper? The Better Business Bureau says to be careful with your electronic identity when shopping or using online banking.

“Your password is so important. People can get your birthdate. They can your social security number. You’ve got to be diligent. Use different passwords for different site, and make them complicated and difficult,” said Potter.

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