South Mississippi Seniors Learn How To Avoid Identity Theft - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

South Mississippi Seniors Learn How To Avoid Identity Theft

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Identity theft is a serious crime that affects hundreds of people around the world, especially senior citizens. Americorps Vista and the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District held a "Shred It and Forget It " day at Singing River Mall Tuesday to teach seniors about consumer protection.

Katherine Censory knows that at 77, she has to watch out for those lurking identity thieves. That's why she brought dozens of old documents to the mall to be shredded.

"People are interested in taking that stuff," Censory said. 

Organizer Irma Martin agrees that important, private information in the wrong hands could spell trouble. She says the Shred Day is a great awareness tool for elderly people.

"Identity theft is real for everybody. I believe we are more vulnerable, more trusting, and sometimes we are not as alert as we should be, and people take advantage of that," Martin said.

To combat the theft problem, Staples Company Technician Steven Avery and his team donated the shredding machines and the hands to help.

"It has become one of the most common forms of theft, cause, I mean, they don't have to walk into a store and steal stuff. They can order stuff online with your name and your credit," Avery said.

Volunteers point out one of the best ways seniors can protect their good name and credit is to not throw any bills or documents into the trash.

"It is good to keep some papers, like your tax papers, for seven years. But things you get on a monthly basis like monthly bank statements, and monthly credit card statements, once you verify those things are accurate, those need to be shredded," Martin said.

The average shredder costs about $40. Organizers say it's a small investment that will pay off big in the long run.

"It only takes a minute to shred what you get in a day," Avery said.

Katherine Censory says she feels safer knowing that her papers are destroyed, and she has a message for other seniors.

"Protect yourself."

The AmeriCorps Vista Group is recommending people shred monthly bills after your checks clear. They say you should also shred outdated credit cards, old checks, and expired drivers' licenses.

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