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Shred-A-Thon helps fight identity theft

Prince Edward County residents protected themselves while helping others as participants of the second annual Shred-A-Thon hosted by Hospice Prince Edward.

Residents brought unwanted personal records and documents by the boxful to the Picton Home Hardware parking lot where secure destruction was completed by Iron Mountain’s Shred-it truck operator. The paper is recycled by Iron Mountain at its depot in Kingston.

The event raised $1,475 for local Hospice programs and brought some sunshine to an otherwise rainy and cold autumn day.

“The funds are used for our home visiting programs,” said Wayne Carruthers, of Hospice. “Our volunteers are here today helping to raise the money for these programs where they work with clients who are palliative or who have life-limiting illnesses.”

Hospice Prince Edward care offers a range of services that includes physical, psychological, social, spiritual and practical support to people with life-threatening illnesses, and to their families. It focuses on what people need and want at any given time, both prior to death and during bereavement.

Also on site were OPP officers Kim Guthrie and Anthony Mann, to oversee the secure shredding of documents; answer questions about identity theft and offer tips to ensure measures are taken for protection.

When someone takes your name, Social Insurance number, credit card number or some other piece of your personal information for their use – without your knowledge – it’s identity theft.

The OPP suggest that if you suspect your personal information has been hijacked and misappropriated to commit fraud or theft, take action immediately and keep a record of your conversations and correspondence. The following basic actions are appropriate in almost every case.

Start a log of dates, person(s) that you spoke with and exactly what they said.
* Contact the fraud departments of each of the two major credit bureaus. Equifax: (800) 465-7166 and Trans Union: (800) 663-9980
* Request that a “Fraud Alert” be placed in your files.
* At the same time, order copies of your credit reports.
* File a report with your local police or police in the community where the identity theft took place.
* Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is currently central sourcing all pertinent information on Identity Theft to identity trends and patterns, information is also used to assist law enforcement agencies in possible investigations.

The OPP web site adds that there is no reason to be paranoid; there’s just reason to be careful. “If someone wants desperately to target you, they can probably get a lot of information about you — so you just need to minimize the criminal’s opportunities to get that information. You can make yourself a harder target and that the best defense. If you are a victim, do not panic, you will not be out any money. The losses will be attributed to the banks and or companies associated with the fraud.”

The OPP recommends these tips to reduce risk of Identity Theft:

1.      Before you reveal any personally identifying information, find out how it will be used and if it will be shared.
2.      Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don’t arrive on time.
3.      Guard your mail. Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery. Ensure mail is forwarded or re-routed if you move or change your mailing address.
4.      Put passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SIN or your phone number.
5.      Minimize the identification information and number of cards you carry.
6.      Do not give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the internet unless you have initiated the contact or know whom you’re dealing with.
7.      Keep items with personal information in a safe place. An identity thief will pick through your garbage or recycling bins. Be sure to tear or shred receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements and credit offers you get in the mail.
8.      Give your SIN only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible.
9.      Don’t carry your sin card; leave it in a secure place.

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