Identity theft fear drives shredding turnout

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Identity thieves taught Ginny Matthews a valuable lesson in 2008 about disposing of her unwanted documents, so she made sure she didn’t miss this year’s fifth annual Shred-It day.
Matthews, of Tupelo, was one of about 250 people who lugged old and unwanted paperwork Friday to Walmart on North Gloster Street to get it shredded.
Many said the fear of identity theft has caused them to hoard paperwork and unimportant documents that they’d normally toss in the trash. And like Matthews, many of the people have kept mountains of paper over the past year so they could get it shredded.
About three years ago, Matthews said, someone took a credit card application she’d thrown in the garbage and obtained the card under her name.
“That incident changed my life and the way I handle how I dispose of paperwork,” Matthews said as she unloaded boxes of paper from her trunk. “Identity theft to me was something that only happened on television and in the news but now I know it can happen to anyone including myself.”
Friday’s event was a part of National Consumer Protection Week. The Shred-It event takes place annually across the state, and Friday’s turnout was the largest yet for Tupelo, according to Bobbie Shaffett of Mississippi State University’s Family Resource Management School of Human Sciences.
She helps families with consumer issues like identity theft.
“This event has been great for people across the state and it is going to help cut down on identity theft,” said Shaffett. “Documents with a person’s personal information on them need to be disposed of properly because in the wrong hands they can be harmful.”
Michael Reed and his wife, Jackie, have never been victims of identity theft but they still worry about the possibility. The New Albany couple started shredding two years ago.
“I think caution makes the difference in being a victim and not being one,” said Michael. “We make sure we get everything shredded. We’ve heard to many bad things that happen when someone gets hold of your personal information.”
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@journalinc.com.