With summer right around the corner, many credit union members may be finishing some of those much needed, but time consuming, spring cleaning projects. As you’re cleaning out the garage or attic, refreshing the backyard or garden, and purging closets of old items, don’t forget to dispose of unwanted (and potentially dangerous) personal documents that might be hiding in filing cabinets or desk drawers. In fact, your credit union can help you do this easily, safely, and free of charge, bringing your cleaning crusade to a quicker end and allowing you to start enjoying the warm-weather festivities of the season.
Prevent ID Theft and Have Peace of Mind This Summer
The United States Department of Justice defines identity theft and identity fraud as any type of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. Identity thieves steal their victims’ information and money, damage their credit score and their ability to secure a loan, and to add insult to injury, tarnish their reputation by also committing crimes in their name.
With ID theft on the rise, credit unions are taking steps to protect their members. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen every year. So, in addition to informative resources like brochures, flyers, newsletter articles, seminars, and online identity protection centers, credit unions also offer opportunities for members to take actual measures like signing up for credit monitoring services and attending community shred events.
So why not kick off your summertime fun (and protect your identity) at your credit union’s next shredding extravaganza? No one wants to spend their carefree summer days being saddled with thoughts of undiscarded mounting paperwork, or worse, worries about having improperly disposed of personal documents and leaving yourself open to ID theft. These free, CU-sponsored events are typically open to members as well as the overall community. While the main highlight of most credit union shred events is a professional mobile shredder, which gives consumers the ability to safely destroy any unnecessary personal files and documents. Many spring and summer shred events also feature giveaways, food, family-friendly fun, and even CU-related promos or incentives for attendees to take advantage of and enjoy.
Ready, Set, SHRED!
ID thieves target mailboxes as well as trash receptacles when hunting for information, so shredding the following documents rather than just tossing them in the garbage is one of the best ways to protect oneself against ID theft. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends shredding the following: Expired Credit Cards, Checks and Account Statements, Copies of Credit Applications, Credit Offers You Receive in the Mail, Physician Statements, Insurance Forms, and Charge Receipts.
Woodstone Credit Union (Federal Way, WA) offers 2 free shred events each year, one in the spring and one in the fall and has been doing so for the past 3 years. According to Regina Aldridge, Marketing Director, the Saturday events are open to members who look forward to them each year, and non-members who are especially appreciative of the free service. The credit union started offering shred days as an added benefit to its members, and now the events typically attract several hundred people.
This year Woodstone decided to partner with the city ot only to offer the service to more people but to educate people on different subjects as well. “We thought tying in education regarding how to properly destroying your confidential documents was a good message,” explains Aldridge. The 2012 shred event known as Recycle Palooza was a great success resulting in 10,000 pounds of shredded personal documents and hopes to do even better in 2013!
Numerica Credit Union (Spokane Valley, WA) also hosts spring and a fall shred events and has been coordinating them since 2006. According to Kelli Hawkins, Communications Manager, in addition to their 2 annual events, some years the credit union has supported credit union league chapter events as well as shred events held by other organizations by providing the identity theft materials and arranging for the shred truck.
Numerica’s next Free Shred Day is June 2, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Marketing and branch staff will be on site to answer questions and assist with the shredding. The shred company, Western Records Destruction, will be there with a shred truck to destroy documents on site. Open to members and the public, people are often drawn in by the credit union’s “Free Shred Day Today” signs. “They stop to make sure that they have enough time to run home and grab their documents that need shredding, and afterwards are all very thankful that we’re offering this service,” says Hawkins.
The shred trucks come equipped with a video camera inside the shredder allowing people to actually watch the shredding process. “Both the kids and adults love watching as their documents are turned into confetti!” says Hawkins.
Numerica also provides educational materials on how to prevent identity theft, and weather permitting, serves snacks and drinks, giving them time to talk about the steps members can take to prevent fraud. Hawkins says that as the threat of identity theft became more and more prevalent throughout the country, Numerica saw the need to educate members on how to prevent it. “The most basic step a person can take to prevent ID theft is to shred personal documents rather than simply throwing them out in the trash -- a shred event gives them the opportunity to do this for free, and also gives us a chance to educate them on other steps that can be taken to make their identity secure.”
Numerica’s shred events have been well received. The community is grateful for the free service and people understand why it is important to shred their personal documents. The media also recognizes the important message of ID theft prevention and has covered the shred events on several occasions.
“As a financial institution, we take every measure possible to protect our members’ personal information and to educate our members -- offering a free shred event helps us accomplish this,” contends Hawkins.
Greater Texas Federal Credit Union (Austin, TX) is holding its very first shred day on June 23 at their Manor, Texas branch location, and based on its success hope to offer the service to the local community as well as in other Texas communities, moving forward. According to Rachel Fausett, Business Development Officer, the GTFCU staff will run this inaugural event with shredding courtesy of Cintas who will be on site for 3 hours. A community-wide event, the credit union will provide snacks and goodies, and the Austin Toros mascot will be making a special appearance for those in attendance. As a special incentive, postcards are going out to the community and anyone who opens an account with that postcard will receive a $25 reward. “The branch will be open during the event for potential members to come in, open accounts, and take advantage of the offer,” says Fausett.
GTFCU decided to offer a free shred event since Manor, the community they are serving, is a smaller one without many companies offering this resource. “We are also the first and only credit union in the community so we wanted to show our current and future members that we care about the security of their information -- it’s a way for us to introduce ourselves to the community and show how GTFCU can provide positive and needed resources to the community of Manor,” explains Fausett.
Looking for a financial institution dedicated to helping you protect your identity? Find a credit union and join today!By Cyndi Cohen