2008-04-25 / Top Stories

City Sets Shred Fest To Fight Identity Theft

Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz, Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt, officials from the Departments of Parks & Recreation and Sanitation and Frank Abagnale, author of "Stealing Your Life" and subject of the motion picture "Catch Me If You Can", today kicked off Shred Fest NYC, the City's first-ever free shredding event, to increase public awareness of identity theft prevention.

The event serves as a reminder to New Yorkers about the importance of shredding documents that contain personal identifying information before throwing them away. Every year, an estimated 14,000 New Yorkers become victims of identity theft, the fastest growing crime in the country. Document shredding is one of the most important ways New Yorkers can protect their identity. Shred Fest NYC will be held on Sunday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 11 locations throughout the five boroughs where New Yorkers can bring personal documents to be shredded. In addition to having their documents shredded by industrial shredding equipment, New Yorkers will receive information on how to prevent identify theft and have an opportunity to receive one of fifty Staples MailMate 3 paper shredders donated by Staples. All of the shredded paper generated by Shred Fest NYC will be recycled.

"Perhaps the single biggest surprise when it comes to protecting your identity is that you're in a terrific position to protect yourself," said Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz. "The City's 11-site, 5-borough 'Shred Fest NYC' launches our public awareness campaign on identity theft protection, which will empower New Yorkers to take proactive steps to protect sensitive personal information."

"Having your identity stolen can turn your life upside down," said John Feinblatt, the Criminal Justice Coordinator. "The good news is consumers can take simple steps to safeguard their personal information and avoid becoming a victim. I encourage New Yorkers to clean those old files out of their closets and bring them to a Shred Fest NYC location so their documents can be safely destroyed and the paper recycled."

"Your private documents are better shred than read, so bring your personal documents to one of the 11 Shred Fest locations to be shredded and recycled - and enjoy your parks while you're at it," said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "Public parks are accessible gathering places and we are pleased to host Shred Fest NYC in many parks throughout New York City."

"Recycling all types of paper is a very good way to help manage our solid waste," said Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty. "Shredding valuable documents then recycling the residual paper is an excellent way to protect against identity theft. Hence, Sunday's Shred Fest NYC sounds like an absolute win-win for all New Yorkers and for the Mayor's innovative measures to 'green' our environment."

"Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States, and with 70 percent of the American public having had some piece of personal data stolen, we have an epidemic on our hands," said Frank W. Abagnale, worldrenowned expert on identity theft and fraud, and subject of Steven Spielberg's movie "Catch Me if You Can." "Many of the incidents of identity theft from individuals and businesses come from the most unexpected places and can be avoided with simple common sense. When you look at the time and financial costs incurred by ignoring these safeguarding behaviors, it is staggering."

New Yorkers can bring their documents containing personal information to be shredded, and securely disposed of, at the 11 Shred Fest locations throughout the City. New Yorkers are invited to bring boxes or bags of documents, mail or any paper materials, including bank statements, paycheck stubs or credit card applications to be shredded in trucks mounted with industrial shredding equipment provided pro bono by Code Shred, Brink's Document Destruction and USA Shred. The trucks are equipped with television monitors mounted on the sides of the trucks to allow for viewing of the shredded material. Stapled documents can be shredded, but documents bound with metal binder clips cannot be accepted.

Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt also announced that a recent examination of retailers' use of personal information on credit card receipts revealed that some merchants are not complying with the law. Federal and state law requires that electronically issued credit card receipts redact the credit card expiration date and all but the last five numbers of the credit card. The Mayor's Office has asked over 36 merchants to change practices that do not comply with the law, and over three-quarters of those merchants have already done so; the rest are in the process of complying with the law.

DCA recently announced that it issued violations against LifeLock, Inc. - the self-proclaimed "industry leader" in the identity theft protection industry. Its deceptive print and Web site advertisements can lead consumers to believe falsely that they are insured against any identity theft that takes place while they are enrolled with LifeLock. In Queens, residents can take their papers to be shredded to the Queens County Civil Court, 89 Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard or to the office of Community Board 2, 50-15 Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside.

It's Your Identity… Protect It! Follow These Tips:

Shred first, trash last. Never throw out papers with sensitive information, such as your Social Security Number;

Be careful when you receive suspicious telephone and e-mail offers. Never give personal information over the phone and never click on unfamiliar e-mail links. ;

Safeguard your computer using antivirus and firewall software.

Opt out of mail solicitations.

Register your address at www.optoutprescreen. com or call toll-free 1-888- 567-8688.;

Check your credit report for unusual activity. Request your free annual credit report online at www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1- 877-322-8228.

For more identity theft prevention tips or to find a Shred Fest NYC location near you, visit www.nyc.gov/consumers or call 311.

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