"Shred Fest" Promotes Identity Theft Awareness

It is the fasting growing crime in the panhandle, and you may be the next victim.  Scam artists are using every means possible to steal identities, even engaging in dumpster diving.  Your trash can now give them the power to assume your identity.

The quickest way to stop thieves and protect your information is shredding.  Your trash, their treasure.

Today, people were encouraged to come out to Market Street United on Georgia to have their personal information professionally shredded and disposed of in hopes of protecting more members of the community from falling victim to this scam.

Joe Marquez of Document Shredding and Storage says, "Well, it's important to handle it properly.  It's one thing to shred it, but then it ends up in the dumpster anyway."

It's easy for predators to get your personal information.  The most common way is dumpster diving, and with one sweep they can get anything from your e-mail addresses and phone numbers.

Experts say they can use that information to link up to your social security number and even your bank accounts.  They can even be using your identity for up to eighteen months before you find out.

Identity Theft victim Cindy Short says, "I know from experience the painful process that it takes to get your information and credit history back in line."

Sgt. Randy Tenbrink with the Amarillo Police Department tells NewsChannel 10 that theft is eating resources up at the police department, and in Amarillo it's a big crime and costs people a lot of money.

Organizers of today's event say that they hope to host another "shred fest" later this year.

Here are a few ways you can protect yourself from identity theft: only print your initials on checks instead of your entire name and have your credit checked at least once a year.