Shred-a-thon helps prevent ID theft

Marjorie Shafferwhite said she was thrilled to take advantage of a free identity theft prevention shred-a-thon in Wichita on Friday.

She was nearly as thrilled to meet Kansas Attorney General Steve Six, who hosted the event.

"I already had my documents shredded, but I want to wait to meet him," Shafferwhite said.

The event in the Walmart parking lot on North Rock Road was one of two consumer events Friday in Wichita leading up to National Consumer Protection Week, which begins Sunday.

The other was a student consumer workshop at Wichita State University. More than 300 high school students registered for the workshop, which taught students about preventing identity theft, student loan practices, the basics of contracts and more.

The shred-a-thon was an opportunity for the public to shred personal documents, such as old bank statements or tax forms, as a precaution to prevent identity theft.

"It is much easier to prevent identity theft than to fix the problem after it has occurred," said Six, who cited identity theft as the fastest growing crime in the United States.

Christine Parks of Mulvane knows first-hand about identity theft and the importance of shredding personal information.

"I recently had to shut my credit card down because of this problem," Parks said.

Although she did not know about the event in advance, she noticed the large black-and-white Document Resources Inc. trucks in Walmart's parking lot.

"I happened to have documents I needed shredded in the back of my car," Parks said. "I usually have to pay to have this done."

Shafferwhite shreds what she can at home, but often searches for free shredding events online, which is where she learned of Friday's event.

"This is a great deal," Shafferwhite said. "Everyone should take advantage of free events like this."

Six said he cannot emphasize enough the importance of never giving out private information and shredding personal information.

"People are scammed time and again, and it's very difficult to prosecute in identity theft cases," Six said.

For Phyllis Trissal, who also took advantage of the free shredding, the reality is simple:

"You just can't be careful enough these days," she said.