Identity theft on the rise

October 12, 2012 3:03:21 PM PDT
Protecting your identity is crucial. Once your information gets in the hands of the wrong person, thousands of dollars could be spent and your credit could be ruined.

One simple step can protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft.

More than a dozen free shred events will take place now through Thanksgiving in the area. You can bring your unused credit card applications, out of date financial documents, and anything with your personal information that are hot items for identity thieves.

On Thursday the Chapel Hill Police Department's Shred-a-Thon event resulted in the highest quantity of shredded materials of any similar events held by the police department.  During the four hour event, 28,300 pounds of materials were shredded, including some of Leah Hoffer's documents. 

"It's important, you don't want anyone to take your identity because they can do anything and everything with it," Hoffer said.

Susan Silpon adds, "We've been collecting our bills and different things that we want shredded and cleaning out our files."

Besides shredding important documents, you should also check your credit report often. Everyone is entitled to one free credit report a year from each of the three major credit bureaus. To check your scores, go to www.annualcreditreport.com.

Also, consider a security freeze that prevents thieves from opening new accounts or taking out loans and credit cards in your name.

To stop pre-approved credit card applications from coming in the mail, you can opt out at www.optoutprescreen.com.

To see a list of all planned shred-a-thons this fall, click here click here.

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