More than eight million Americans fell victim to identity theft last year. This weekend, local companies are teaming up with the Better Business Bureau to keep Western New Yorkers out of that club.
The Better Business Bureau and Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Buffalo will host "Secure Your ID Day" Saturday at Erie Community College North Campus in Williamsville.
Both companies will offer residents and small business owners free expert advice and tips about identity theft protection. Credit reports will be available upon request.
Participants are urged to bring up to three boxes or bags of documents to be shredded by professional document disposal company Shred-it, which is donating its services for the event.
"We have held similar events around the country where thousands of people have come by," said Peggy Penders, spokeswoman for the Upstate New York Better Business Bureau.
Mail and other personal documents often contain sensitive information thieves can use to assume a person's identity. With it, they can gain access to bank and credit accounts or create new ones in the victim's name, racking up debt, draining funds and costing each victim an average of more than $7,000.
The event aims to educate consumers about what CCCS President Paul Atkinson called a "crime of access," teaching practical steps to drastically minimize the risk of becoming a victim.
The free three-hour event will begin at 10 a.m. and will be held in building 300. Call 851-1433 for more information.