Every year, countless identities are stolen and used, putting innocent consumers in tricky financial positions. According to the Insurance Information Institute, over three million cases of fraud and identity theft were reported in the U.S in 2016. During that time, Mississippi was ranked No. 38 with around 2,500 complaints. The state of Michigan was reportedly ranked No. 1 in complaints with close to 18,000 complaints of fraud and theft.
Annette Young, a 63-year-old resident of Memphis, Tennessee, has also been a victim of identity theft. Last year, Young was taken from her home by county sheriffs, claiming she wrote a bad check for $2,500. When reviewing the check, she realized the check was written 15 years ago at a Wal-Mart store in Alabama. That year, Young had opened an account with a local bank and threw away the free checks given to her. It never occurred to her to shred them. Young’s case was finally dismissed due to lack of proof by the prosecution. However, she spent a few thousand dollars in legal fees to defend her in this situation.
“If I had just shredded the checks when I had the chance, I would have never been in this mess in the first place,” Young said. “In life, we get so caught up with other stuff, we never think about disposing of anything the right way.” Young could have avoided spending money on an attorney and court dates if her community had a free shred event such as one the City of Oxford and FNB are hosting.
FNB Oxford Bank and the City of Oxford teamed up to provide the community with the second annual shred event last week. Both entities are making a conscious effort to promote environmentally-friendly disposal of waste by providing six volunteers each to help unload paper and load them into bins.
Residents of Oxford were encouraged to bring their old bank statements and other pieces of information that they have collected over time to the event. The Shred-It truck was parked at the FNB branch on Jackson Avenue, where one lane was for Saturday banking, and the other lane for unloading paper to be shredded. The Shred-It truck was there from 9 a.m. to noon, ready to take any unwanted paper off people’s hands and dispose of their sensitive information in a secure way.
“In our business, we are keenly aware that certain info needs to be disposed of properly and safely,” said John L. Barrett, FNB Oxford president and chief executive officer. “It just made sense for FNB to create awareness of everyone’s need to do the same and also provide an easy way to do it.”
“One of the reasons we are doing this is because banks tend to provide sensitive documents that you’ll need to shred at some time,” said Melanie Thompson, the marketing manager for FNB Oxford. “Whether it’s bills or statements, there is stuff that piles up and needs to be disposed of in a responsible manner.”
The shred event was created by Michelle Robinson, the City of Oxford’s recycling coordinator. “I am thrilled that Keep Oxford-Lafayette County Beautiful is able to host a Shred-It Day event yearly,” Robinson said. “It is very important to get rid of important documents the correct way so that others can’t steal your information.”
“When we arrived last year around 8:15 a.m., people were already waiting in line. Once the Shred-It truck arrived, it was constant shredding. It was pretty steady until the last hour but the event was very well received,” Thompson said.
Last year was the first year FNB and the City of Oxford hosted this event. The Shred-It truck was filled with around 5,000 pounds of paper. This year, they are hoping that it will be even bigger.
FNB Oxford also hosts elder abuse and cybersecurity informational meetings in conjunction with RSVP, a Senior Volunteer Core here in Oxford, and Triad, which is with the Oxford Police Department. They have also held classes at the Oxford Learning Center, where they teach kids financial literacy. FNB Oxford hopes to expand and introduce more programs to the community in the coming years. By hosting events to educate and provide resources to the community, they hope to build a relationship with the residents of Oxford.
By Jessica Shipp
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