Friday, April 24, 2009

Shred Fest

We’ve had Earth Day….and now, we’ll have Shred Day. The folks at AARP are putting it on “Shred Fest” across the nation, and in Madison, it’s Saturday from 9 to noon at East Towne Mall. The shredders will be right near the Culvers Restaurant, if you’re planning to navigate the giant mall area tomorrow.

The reason it’s important to shred your personal documents rather than just toss them in the trash is simple. There are some very dishonest people out there, and with the economy in the tank, there are more than ever. You can, of course, do your own “shredding” if you’re patient enough, but if you just toss that junk-mail credit-card come-on into the trash….you’re taking a chance that it may fall into the wrong hands.

Those reading this who think it’s extreme to take scissors to stuff like that, are those who’ve not yet had the “pleasure” of discovering somebody has either attempted to use your name and information to get cash, credit or merchandise, or that somebody has actually done it, and you’ve found out after the fact.

Several months ago my wife was on business for a week in New York City. Since it’s my habit to check our bank account on the internet every day, I thought it strange when the first day she was gone there was a charge on her debit card for a floral delivery service. The next day, there were charges for Chinese Tea, a make-up kit, and a battery-powered sweeping device. That was the give-away. I KNEW she’d NEVER order such a device!

I called my wife to make sure she hadn’t ordered these things on her Blackberry during a break in meetings in mid-town Manhattan - confirmed that she still had the debit card in her possession - and told her to use the debit card from our other bank exclusively, until I sorted things out.

The next call was to the bank, and by that time, whoever had her information had run up five more charges. They swung into action immediately to stop the charges, and since it’s a joint account I was able to swing by the bank and sign some documents stating that we did NOT make the charges in question. They made it as near painless as possible, and it never cost us a cent. We were lucky.

But I’m one of the very few, according to the bank, who monitor their accounts every day.
We never found out who got her debit card information. The bank issued her a new card with a different number, and we haven’t had any problems since, with that card. But a few weeks later, the bank sent me a letter saying there may have been a problem with MY debit card…and just to be safe, I needed to stop in and get a different card and number.

I guess you just can’t be too careful these days.

1 comment:

  1. I'm partial to the way the Norwegians handle their document destruction on St. John's Eve, a process emulated by the Brits on Guy Fawkes Night - Bonfires!

    The blaze-em-away approach might work well with identity thieves, too (Noo Yawk if full of 'em), but the authorities would probably frown on it.