7On your side: Shred Fest this Saturday - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

7 On Your Side: Shred Fest this Saturday

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With Monday being tax day, it's a good time to remember the importance of properly destroying records that could allow someone to steal your identity.

Tips for protecting your identity include shredding papers with personal information and this coming weekend, there's an opportunity to get some free help destroying your old documents.

Personal records to gather up include bank statements and other financial or tax records that no longer needed. Getting rid of them to help reduce the chance of someone stealing your identity.

Carmen Million, president of the Southwest Louisiana Better Business Bureaus, advises consumers to guard their social security numbers, account numbers and other private information. 

"Identity theft occurs most often, in fact 50 percent of the time, by people you know. Those are people who have access to your information, your social security number, your date of birth, your mother's maiden name, your banking information. Those are people that you know personally. And in some cases those are people that will dig in your trash can," said Million.

She also recommends having strong passwords and pin numbers. She says it's usually safe to shred tax records after seven years. 

"Not only do we recommend that you shred your information, but that you cross shred it because you want to make sure that it is properly disposed of, properly shredded to where they can't put that information together," said Million.

She says another way to protect your identity is to check your credit report each year.

"Go to the web site www.annualcreditreport.com or there's a phone number you can call, you can contact the Better Business Bureau, to get that information. But you can get a copy of your credit report from Equifax, Experian and Trans Union and it's free of charge and it doesn't affect your numbers," said Million.

Shred Fest is this weekend when you can bring up to three boxes of records for destruction free.

"It's going to be this Saturday, April 20. We're going to have it at the Prien Lake Mall, behind Pier 1, and it's going to be from 9 a.m. to noon. And we are allowing consumers and businesses to bring up to three boxes of materials, that they would like to shred, three boxes of materials that include their personal information. Identity theft in 2012, the stats show that 12.6 million consumers were victims of identity theft. So, it is a growing problem," said Million.

So the first rule of identity theft is if you don't need it, destroy it responsibly and this is the weekend to do it. Again the Shred Fest is from 9 a.m. to noon this Saturday behind Pier 1 at Prien Lake Mall.

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