Shred Fest began last year as an opportunity to help Augusta residents dispose of important or sensitive documents.
Dozens of cars pulled up to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office parking lot Friday for the annual Shred Fest, an event focused on helping protect Augusta residents from identity theft.
Shred Fest was first held last year and will likely continue after seeing its success, said public information officer Sgt. William McCarty.
McCarty said the event is held to “assist the public in making them aware of some of the documents they need to protect and dispose of properly in recent light of the growing problem of identity theft.”
By 11:30 a.m., between 50 and 60 cars had already arrived in the parking lot, some handing over a small bag of documents and others unloading multiple boxes.
Augusta resident Gloria Baker was eager to take advantage of the event after she missed last year’s.
“I worry about my identity theft a lot because I already had it happen,” Baker said. “Now I really worry about everything.”
Baker said someone stole a check from her mailbox about a year ago and made it out to themselves for a large amount. She said she is more careful about protecting her documents now.
Members of the sheriff’s office helped people dump their documents into a bin for shredding by an Augusta Data Storage truck on-site. Last year, 7,000 pounds of paper was shredded, said Butch Holley, account manager at Ellefson Transportation Group, the parent company of Augusta Data Storage.
Over 16 million U.S. consumers were affected by identity theft fraud last year, according to an Experian report. McCarty said people should protect their important documents to the same extent as other material belongings.
“In this day and age it’s just as important to protect your personal information, paycheck stubs, tax returns, sales receipts – it’s just as important to protect that as it is your personal property that you keep inside your home and your cars,” McCarty said.
Tips from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office
Keep important documents that contain your Social Security number, banking information and credit card information/statements in a secure location such as a locked, fireproof cabinet or safe.
Items such as tax returns, photo IDs, bank statements, voided checks, employee pay stubs, credit card information and copies of sales receipts should never be thrown away without destroying the sensitive information. Shred these items when they are no longer useful.
Never keep personal documents and items unsecured in your vehicle.
Once you discover you have been a victim of identity fraud, report it to the sheriff’s office at (706) 821-1000.