It's that time again! Your Better Business Bureau is partnering with River City Shredding, Chattanooga Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Resource 1 Tier 3 Data Security, the Hamilton County Coalition, and the Chattanooga Times Free Press to bring you our biannual Shred Day.
Shred Day is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, October 22 at the Chattanooga Coca-Cola Bottling Company's parking lot located at 2111 W. Shepherd Rd. This site can be accessed by taking Exit 1A (Airport Exit) off Highway 153.
Please note that you are encouraged to come during the earlier hours for document shredding, as that portion of the event could stop sooner than noon if the shredding trucks fill to capacity.
It's important to carefully shred and dispose of important documents that are no longer needed – especially those that contain personally identifiable information about you and your loved ones. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had more than 1.4 million cases of identity theft reported to their agency in 2021, keeping it definitively at the top of reported types of fraud. And ID theft continues to grow, with the 2021 numbers representing a 25% increase over 2020.
ID theft cases accounted for 20% of the fraud reports from Tennesseans and 30% of fraud reports from Georgians. A significant number of consumers reported that their information was misused to apply for a government document/benefit or to open up a credit card account.
While it's difficult to completely avoid some form of identity theft, each of us holds the key to minimizing our chances of being a victim by protecting our personal information.
"If you don't need it, destroy it – safely" is the theme of BBB's Shred Day, where you can drop off paper documents and hard drives that contain personally identifiable information to be shredded and destroyed. Law enforcement representatives representing the Hamilton County Coalition will also be on site to take unneeded and/or expired prescription drugs to protect your prescription information and keep the medicines out of our waterways.
The public is invited to bring up to three trash bags of documents to be shredded for free on the spot by River City Shredding, a professional document destruction company. If you choose to bring your items in boxes, please keep them small enough to be manageable, and be prepared to take your boxes back for your own recycling.
Consider shredding any unneeded documents that contain personal information such as your driver's license number, social security number or bank account number. Financial account statements and birth date records should also be shredded, along with things like pre-approved credit offers, which identity thieves can steal out of your mailbox or garbage cans and use to take out credit cards in your name.
While staples and paper clips can remain, we ask that you remove any large metal clips, notebook covers, and similar items before turning in documents for shredding. We also ask that you don't place items in plastic bags or zip lock type bags. All of these items could jam the shredder.
Restoration 1 Tier 3 Data Security will be on hand to accept and shred PC hard drives for free. The company will also accept other PC components for recycling. (If needed, resources will be available to remove the hard drives from the PCs). PCs may also be recycled, along with flat screen monitors.
If you're bringing unwanted or expired medications for proper disposal, please bring them in their original container, if available. You can mark out personal information.
The document shredding is offered through a drive-through format and we ask that all attendees remain in their vehicles at all times. Please place your items in your trunk or backseat to allow for safe distancing when our team picks them up.
The event is free and provided as a community service. Thank you to River City Shredding, Resource 1 Tier 3 Data Security, Hamilton County Coalition, and Chattanooga Coca-Cola Bottling Company, as well as our media partners: Chattanooga Times Free Press, Cumulus Broadcasting, Brewer Media Group, and Bahakel Communication.
We hope you'll take advantage of the event, which will be conducted rain or shine. Your BBB hosts these free shredding events twice a year and plans are underway for our spring event in April.
For more information about our event, please visit bbb.org/chattanooga or call 423-266-6144. Please visit bbb.org/scamtips to learn about additional ways to avoid identity theft.
Michele Mason is president of the Better Business Bureau in Chattanooga.