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‘Shred Fests’ Aimed at Helping Arkansans Avoid Identity Theft

It's time to round up and shred documents such as old tax forms and bank statements, or anything that could be used by a thief to steal your identity. (GettyImages)
It's time to round up and shred documents such as old tax forms and bank statements, or anything that could be used by a thief to steal your identity. (GettyImages)
April 11, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The income-tax filing deadline is next week, and experts warn it's prime time for thieves looking to steal your identity.

According to the AARP Fraud Watch Network, someone's identity is stolen every two seconds and can be used to access bank accounts and credit cards or open bogus credit accounts. Lou Tobian, associate state director of outreach and education for AARP Arkansas, said shredding old tax records, bank and credit statements and other documents with identifying information is the best way to keep them out of the wrong hands.

"One of the key ways that identities are stolen is through our documents that we've piled up and haven't disposed of properly," he said. "We feel that safe document disposal is an integral part of protecting yourself from fraud and scams."

AARP Arkansas is planning free Shred Fests in May in Little Rock and Springdale, where people can bring old tax documents and other files and have them disposed of properly. Experts have recommended keeping income-tax documents for at least three years after you file, and Tobian said it's best to dispose of any paperwork older than that.

Tobian said the Shred Fests are open to everyone, not just AARP members, although he noted that older Americans are more likely to be targets for scams and identity theft. In terms of what to shred, he suggested any documents with a name, address, phone number, Social Security number or other identifying information.

"We're going to have an independent shredding company," he said. "They'll bring a shredding truck to each of the two Shred Fest sites, and they'll be able to shred documents on site."

The Shred Fests will be from 9 a.m. to noon May 5 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock and from 9 a.m. to noon May 19 at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale. AARP said they are only for individuals, not businesses, and there is a limit of three bags or small boxes per vehicle. Information about the events is online at states.aarp.org.

The AARP Fraud Watch website is AARP.org/fraud.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AR