Shed-A-Thons to help prevent identity theft

Oct. 07, 2013 @ 06:05 PM

Got paper?

The Orange County Solid Waste Management Department is hosting two Shred-A-Thons this week to give residents a chance to get rid of sensitive paper documents that crooks might use in the commission of identity theft.

The first Shred-A-Thon will be Thursday from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m., at University Mall near Dillard’s Department Store. The second will be Saturday at Hampton Pointe Shopping Center in Hillsborough, also from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  

“We do this in an attempt to reduce our calls for service as far as identity theft goes,” said Mark Geercken, a crime prevention specialist with the Chapel Hill Police Department.

Now in its seventh year, the Shred-A-Thon is a partnership that includes University Mall, the Chapel Hill Police Department, the Partnership for a Sustainable Community and the Local Government Credit Union. Town and county officials said it has steadily increased in popularity.

Blair Pollock, a solid waste planner with Orange County, said more than 700 people brought paper waste to University Mall last year and more than 300 took their waste to the Hillsborough site. 

“We will start getting calls from residents the day after the event is over saying they missed it and wanting to know when is the next one,” Pollock said.

He said several reasons explain the increased popularity of the Shred-A-Thons, including a heightened awareness about identity theft crimes.

“Everyone knows someone who has been a victim of identity theft,” said Pollock, adding that he has been victimized by identity theft as have several members of his family.

Additionally, Pollock said people receive so much paper that they don’t have time to manage it all. He said the Shred-A-Thons make it convenient for residents to get rid of confidential papers so they don’t pile up.   

Pollock also said Orange County and its partners do a lot more to promote and advertise the Shred-A-Thons than other towns that offer them.

“The publicity factor is significant and the price is right,” Pollock said.

  In some ways, the annual Shred-A-Thon has become a victim of its success.

For example, this year, each resident will only be allowed to bring up to five “banker-sized” boxes or five large bags of paper waste to the Shred-A-Thon.

Last year, each resident was allowed to bring up to 10 banker-sized boxes or large bags, which caused the event to last an hour longer than planned.

Residents were allowed to drive up and receive curb-side service last year, but will only be allowed to walk up to the shredder this year.

The Shred-A-Thons are for residents and businesses in Orange County and the part of Chapel Hill that is in Durham County and local government employees that work within Orange County.   

Residents bringing waste to be shredded are asked to remove any non-paper materials such as plastic bags, plastic binders, plastic folders, metal tabs, laminated paper, computer disks or other electronic media.

All shredding will take place on-site in full view of people delivering paper. The shredded paper will be recycled.