Shredding event helps prevent the nightmare of identity theft

Halloween reminds us of all the horrors that go bump in the night, but one fright we might not think about too often is the theft of sensitive information and identity theft.

Monday at the University of Lethbridge, A Nightmare on Shred Street 5 brought back its free shredding event offered by the University’s Information Technology Services team with support from Lethbridge Mobile Shredding and DBS Environmental.

According to the University, identity theft and fraud are among the fastest growing crimes in Canada. It is imperative to protect identity from theft by safely disposing of personal items like bank statements, credit card bills, and other bills or stubs.

“We had to take a break during COVID, but now this is the fifth iteration of the shredding event,” said Kris Caldwell, information security manager for the University.

“This is for anyone that has paper records that they want to get rid of safely and securely. Usually there is a cost associated with this, and the University is taking that cost and making it convenient for people to come and drop off anything that they might be warehousing at home.”

With ease and convenience, all participants had to do was drive up, unload their documents, and go – with an opportunity to snag some Halloween treats too.

“Pull up, tell us what you have to unload, and our volunteers will help unload it, they will divide and sort. The whole process takes a couple of minutes and you’re off,” said Caldwell. “We are also offering secure erasing of hard drives on site. A lot of people are bringing in laptops and older computers and we are removing the hard drives and securely erasing them.”

Coming at the end of Cyber Security Awareness Month, the event is just one of the ways people can protect their information, even when disposing of it.

“Even a small piece of personal information can lead to accounts becoming compromised,” said Caldwell.

“Old bank statements, tax information, and more. When these things go out in the regular trash there is a risk and a roll of the dice. That is what we are trying to avoid here. Making sure that we are adding that extra bit of security to make sure people’s personal information is not compromised.”

When it comes to security there is always a risk, but annual events like Shred Street help scare the horror of identify theft away.

“If anyone has those records and sensitive information at home, just keep in mind this is annually,” said Caldwell. “We will help get rid of anything that you might have a hard time getting rid of otherwise.”

Ryan Clarke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald