The Federal Trade Commission reports that more than 1.38 million cases of identity theft were reported in 2020, more than double the cases in 2019 and holding strong at the top spot among all types of reported fraud. ID theft cases accounted for 25% of the fraud reports from Tennesseans and 39% of fraud reports from Georgians.
A significant number of consumers reported that their information was misused to apply for a government document/benefit or to open up a credit card account.
While it’s difficult to completely avoid some form of identity theft, each of us holds the key to minimizing our chances of being a victim by protecting our personal information. It starts with storing important records and papers in a safe place and safely disposing of documents you no longer need. Your BBB is here to help!
“If you don’t need it, destroy it – safely” is the theme of Better Business Bureau serving Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia’s upcoming Shred Days, where you can drop off paper documents and hard drives that contain personally identifiable information to be shredded and destroyed. Law enforcement representatives will also be on site to take unneeded and/or expired prescription drugs to protect your prescription information and keep the medicines out of our waterways.
Your BBB hosts these free shredding events twice a year. Here’s our fall event schedule. Events will be conducted rain or shine.
Please note that the onsite shredding will stop early if the trucks fill up:
* Friday, October 15, Hixson: 9 a.m. to noon Clear Creek Church of Christ, 5612 Hixson Pike.
* Saturday October 16, Cleveland: 8 a.m. to noon Bradley County Justice Center 2230 Blythe Avenue SE. Please note: BBB is participating as part of the county’s Household Hazardous Waste Day event and will only offer shredding services at this location.
* Saturday October 30, Chattanooga: 9 a.m. to noon Metro Tab Church 2101 Shepherd Road (intersection of Shepherd and Highway 153) Note: this is a new date and location.
The public is invited to bring up to three trash bags of documents to be shredded for free on the spot by Shred-it, a professional document destruction company. If you choose to bring your items in 3 boxes, please keep them small enough to be manageable, and be prepared to take your boxes back for your own recycling.
Consider shredding any documents you no longer need that contain personal information such as your driver’s license number, social security number or bank account number. Financial account statements and birth date records should also be shredded, along with things like pre-approved credit offers, which identity thieves can steal out of your mailbox or garbage cans and use to take out credit cards in your name. Please only bring personal papers for shredding. Newspapers and similar documents can’t be accepted.
BBB offers a Document Retention Schedule based on IRS recommendations at https://bbb.org/h/k1tw.
While staples and paper clips can remain, we ask that you remove any large metal clips, notebook covers and similar items before turning in documents for shredding. We also ask that you don’t place items in plastic bags or zip lock type bags. All of these items could jam the shredder.
Restoration 1 Tier 3 Data Security will also be on hand at the Hixson and Chattanooga events to shred up to two (2) PC Hard drives per attendee for free. Additionally, PC components may be donated for recycle. If needed, resources will be available to remove the hard drives from the PCs. PCs may also be recycled, but please do not bring monitors.
If you’re bringing unwanted or expired medications for proper disposal, please bring them in their original container, if available. You can mark out personal information.
Special precautions are being taken to follow COVID and CDC guidelines for the safety of attendees and our staff. This is a drive-through format and we ask that all attendees remain in their vehicles at all times. Please place your items in your trunk or backseat to allow for safe distancing when our team picks them up.
The event is free and provided as a community service by the Better Business Bureau and its community partners: Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union, NovaTech, Inc., Shred-it, Inc., Resource 1 Tier 3 Data Security, and Hamilton County Coalition. We also thank our media partners: Chattanooga Times Free Press, Cleveland Daily Banner, Cumulus Broadcasting, Brewer Media Group, Bahakel Communications and WCLE/Mix 104.1.
For more information about our events, please visit bbb.org/Chattanooga. Visit bbb.org/scamtips to learn about additional ways to avoid identity theft.
Michele Mason is president of the Better Business Bureau in Chattanooga.