7On your side: Shred Fest April 12 - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

7On your side: Shred Fest April 12

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You are your own best defense against identity theft, and keeping papers with personal information away from thieves is critical. The annual "Shred Fest" this weekend can help keep your information safe.

If you don't have a paper shredder and have a lot to shred, you can take advantage of Shred Fest,  the once a year event that allows people to bring up to three boxes or bags of documents to be shredded. 

Carmen Million is the president of the Southwest Louisiana Better Business Bureau. She says those who stop by Shred Fest will also receive a packet of information on identity protection.

"Last year there were 12.6 million consumers that were victims of identity theft. We will allow consumers and businesses to drive through. They don't even have to get out of their vehicle. We will take their documents and shred them for them free of charge," said Million.

So what documents should you bring? I brought a small stack of personal papers to help identify what needs to be shredded including old papers proving purchase of car insurance.

"It has your policy number. You just want to shred this, because you don't know who's going to get a hold of it and what they're going to do with it. It's better to be safe than sorry. If you're not sure, shred it," said Million.

Bottom line, she says, shred anything that has personal account type information as well as things like credit card offers.

"Fifty percent of people who are victimized by identity theft are victimized by people they know. It can be medical records. It can be anything that has your personal identification on it, bank statements, that sort of thing," said Million.

One good thing about shredding what you don't need is it makes it easier to find what you do need.  The best shredders are what they call "cross shredders" which means it would be almost impossible for someone to glue shredded documents back together.

Most records can be destroyed after seven years according to the Internal Revenue Service. But the IRS provides a list of those that should be kept permanently.
 
Shred fest is from 9 a.m. to noon this Saturday at Prien Lake Mall behind Pier 1. For more information on which papers to discard and protecting yourself from identity theft check out the following links:  Better Business Bureau and IRS.

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