The Better Business Bureau says one million people become victims of identity theft every year.
A thief can rifle through your trash, discover a credit card number or a bank account, and ruin your financial life. But there's a simple way to protect yourself.
News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims says Mary, a victim of identity theft, says she and her husband worked their whole lives for their good credit. And one afternoon that all changed. Notice after notice had piled up in her mailbox. All demanding payments for checks she said she never wrote. "Then we started putting it together and I visited with my husband about it and I said where are all these checks I've never even see them. And he said oh I threw those away we don't have that account anymore."
Mary says the checks her husband threw away ended up in the wrong hands. The thieves wrote checks all over town to Quik Trip and Albertsons in amounts ranging from $60 to $116. The total damage more than $3,000.
Rick Brinkley with the Tulsa Better Business Bureau: "the truth is unless itâ€™s shredded into a million pieces there's somebody out there willing and able to take the time to put it back together and steal your identity.â€
This could be a great personal investment. It could not only protect your bank account, but your credit future. And if you don't have a personal shredder, this weekend you can shred for free.
The News on 6, the Better Business Bureau and Shredders Inc are sponsoring Shred Fest to help protect folks from identity theft. Rick Brinkley: "it takes a couple of minutes for you to load that stuff in your car drive it over to us on Saturday and you can go to sleep Saturday night knowing you have taken care of this and your identity is a little bit safer than the day before."
It took close to a year for Mary to clear up the mess, but she says she's learned her lesson. "Oh, it makes us a lot more careful we shred everything we donâ€™t ever throw away checks anymore of course we cut up credit cards we burn things if we have to.â€ Mary and her husband were lucky they didn't have to pay for the $3,000 worth of bad checks.
Shred Fest is this Saturday from 1 to 3 PM at Shredders Inc. at 635 West 41st Street in Tulsa and it's free. For more information, check out their website at www.tulsabbb.org