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Fraud Prevention: Don't Forget the Paper Trail

Income tax returns, medical bills and educational records are full of personal information thieves could use to steal someone's identity. (Elenathewise/AdobeStock)
Income tax returns, medical bills and educational records are full of personal information thieves could use to steal someone's identity. (Elenathewise/AdobeStock)
September 17, 2019

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Cyber crimes continue to increase and evolve, but some fraudsters still follow paper trails to steal personal information. Income tax returns, financial statements, medical bills and educational records are just some of the documents full of personal information of value to thieves.

AARP Arkansas volunteer Larry Larson said these documents tend to pile up in homes, which can leave folks vulnerable to identity theft.

"Even though we've gone digital, I think it's generated more paper than we had before because people print their information off their computers,” Larson said. “And I know dozens of people that have file cabinets at home full of records that they keep."

Larson said proper disposal of documents containing personal information is important, as many scammers have no qualms about digging through the trash as they target their next victim.

To help protect Arkansans from identity theft, AARP Arkansas is hosting a free shredding event on Saturday, Sept. 21, in Jacksonville. There is a limit of three boxes per vehicle, and no business documents will be accepted.

Larson said the shredding event will take place not far from Little Rock Air Force Base to honor local military families and veterans. He explained that military veterans are twice as likely as non-veterans to lose money to fraud - as criminals try to gain access to government-provided benefits.

"Usually if they're retired, they have veterans pay coming in, retirement pay, and there's so much information available about veterans,” he said. “So it's easier to get information on veterans because it's kind of public record."

Identity thieves victimized more than 16 million Americans in 2017, stealing an estimated $16.8 billion.

Disclosure: AARP Arkansas contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - AR