Shreddin' Time in Williston, VT

September 17 , 2006 in SecurShred in the News

Burlington Free Press
By Mariana Lamaison Sears

WILLISTON, VT—Alice MacWalters was happy to see her personal papers shredded in less than a minute Saturday morning at the parking lot of the New England Federal Credit Union on Harvest Lane.

“Excellent,” she said after the shredder’s powerful blades devoured the confidential material she and her husband brought.

Saturday marked the fifth time the MacWalterses of Williston attended the credit union’s Shred Fest. The event is held three times a year for members of the community to properly destroy papers that contain personal information, NEFCU marketing manager Cindy Morgan said. By doing so, they protect themselves from having their financial identities stolen, she said.

Identity theft is defined by Vermont law as “the unauthorized use of another person’s personal identifying information to obtain credit, goods, services, money or property,” according to the Web site of the state Attorney General’s Office.

Believe or not, there are people who search recycling bins for papers with personal information, Morgan said. With a name, address, date of birth and a Social Security number, they might apply for a loan in someone else’s name, she said. When people realize their identities have been stolen, they have to contact creditors and ask them to cancel debts they never requested, she said.

“We don’t want people to throw those in the trash,” Morgan said referring to the approximately 8,000 pounds of paper that are brought to the fest for shredding.

Keeping data safe

The MacWalterses, members of NEFCU, recently moved from one house to another and wanted to make sure their personal information was not out there for someone else to use, Alice MacWalters said. They brought to the fest two boxes full of income tax returns, bank statements, letters, cards and other documents dating back to 1984, she said. “This is one of the best things the credit union offers,” she said.

Steve North, a dentist in St. Albans, and his wife, Edna, agreed. They said they wanted to protect patients’ private information but couldn’t destroy 10 boxes of dental insurance documents with the small shredder they have. “There isn’t anything like that,” Steve North said pointing at the shredders installed on two trucks owned by SecurShred of South Burlington.

SecurShred is a professional document-destruction company that regularly shreds NEFCU documents. The company provides the credit union a secure box with a capacity for 85 pounds of paper and once a week sends a truck with a mobile shredder to destroy the material, said shred technician James Roy of Milton.

Roy said the company has four trucks on the road that visit customers all over New England to shred their documents on site. The shredded papers are kept locked in the trucks and are taken to the company’s headquarters for bailing and recycling, he said.

Saturday, three credit union employees were on hand to help people empty their boxes and bags into bins to be lifted onto SecurShred’s trucks for shredding. Morgan said the credit union also constantly tries to educate its members about identity theft. It offers seminars in conjunction with the state Attorney General’s Office and has designated September as “identity-theft awareness month,” she said.

NEFCU does not have many cases of identity theft, Morgan said, but the members and the community “appreciate having the service. We try to make it easy for people.”