The Geneseo branch of the Tomkins Bank of Castile hosted its second annual Community Shred Day on Monday Sept. 25 at the bank’s location on 11 South Street. This event allowed people within the Geneseo community to safely discard important documents they no longer needed through a shredding company.
Tompkins Bank of Castile branch manager Penny Dunn started the event last year to help people within the community protect their identity. Cars lined up at the Tomkins Bank in a drive-thru fashion next to a huge truck meant for shredding documents.
“We perform this service to community members once a year where people can come and put their shred-ables in the shredder,” Dunn said. “They can actually watch it go right through the machine so they feel confident that their information is not out there.”
Identity theft can occur when someone obtains a social security number, a bank account number or other financial and personal documents. With this information, the identity thief can open bank accounts, credit card accounts, apply for loans or even illegally obtain licenses.
Since many senior citizens are targeted as victims of identity theft, many of the participants of Community Shred Day were among the older generation.
“We’re shredding everything,” Dunn said. “I just had a schoolteacher come through to shred 17 years’ worth of files. A lot of my older generation doesn’t put anything in the mail, so they keep it year after year after year.”
In 2014 alone, more than 17 million United States residents experienced identity theft in the form of government document or benefits fraud, credit card fraud, phone or utilities fraud or bank fraud, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Community Shred Day ensures that the documents will not end up in a place where someone can easily steal information.
People experience identity theft at the bank on an almost daily basis, with stolen debit cards as one of the most common issues, according to Dunn. While she has not had any Geneseo students participate in Community Shred Day yet, she emphasized the importance of students realizing the need to secure their identity.
“It’s a good time for SUNY students to pay attention to their identity,” Dunn said. “This is when you guys are starting to build credit, and you’re going to want this credit for years down the road to purchase a car or a house. If your identity has been stolen, it could take seven to 10 years for that to be cleared.”
The bank used Shred-Text—a professional shredding company—to safely discard and recycle people’s documents. Shred operator Kyle Oppenheimer helped at the event, which he said was a huge success last year.
“About half our truck was full,” he said. “I’d say it holds about four tons, so it was two tons worth of shred-ables. We’re expecting even more than that this year.”
Community Shred Day has been very well-received by the community, with both this year and last having a sizable turnout. The safe discarding of important documents has consequently proven itself as a relevant issue in Geneseo.u