AARP and NY Attorney General launch free shredding events across New York to combat identity theft

AARP and NY Attorney General
Photo courtesy of AARP

AARP New York, in collaboration with state Attorney General Letitia James, initiated a statewide series of free shredding events to help New Yorkers safely dispose of outdated personal papers. The first event took place at the Boys and Girls Republic at the Henry Street Settlement in Manhattan on Monday.

The campaign, titled “Fight fraud. Shred it!,” consists of 33 paper-shredding events across New York State, running until May 18, 2024. These events align with the end of tax season and the onset of spring cleaning, providing residents with a secure way to rid their homes of sensitive documents.

“We are committed to offering these free opportunities so that New Yorkers will feel empowered to fight back against criminals, who grow more and more sophisticated,” said Beth Finkel, AARP New York State Director. “Fraud reports are surging. In 2023, there were 260,000 incidents of fraud throughout the state, according to the Federal Trade Commission. That’s at a cost of $401 million. We’re here to prevent more. Shredding documents is a good first step to destroy documents with identifying information.”

AARP and NY Attorney General
Photo courtesy of AARP

New York Attorney General Letitia James said, “Scammers don’t just cost New Yorkers hundreds of millions of dollars each year, they rob us of our peace of mind, our sense of security, and our dignity. That is why I am proud to partner with AARP to promote this shredding event series throughout the state that will help educate New Yorkers on how to combat scammers and ensure they are able to protect private information through proper disposal of sensitive documents. I encourage anyone who might have been a victim of a scammer to contact my office and file a complaint. As Attorney General, I will always work to protect New Yorkers, and my office will continue to issue consumer alerts and ensure scammers are brought to justice.”

AARP New York provides resources at the events to educate participants about fraud prevention and the importance of shredding documents containing identifying information. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network offers free, reliable resources and a helpline to assist individuals in combating scams and identity theft. Additionally, AARP advocates for policies that protect consumers and enforce laws against fraud at the state, federal, and local levels.

“On behalf of Manhattan’s seniors and their loved ones, I thank AARP for hosting an event that empowers older New Yorkers to protect themselves against fraud, deed theft, and scams. The free shredding service is an excellent way for seniors to securely destroy sensitive papers and take proactive measures to safeguard their personal information,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “These events are a testament to AARP’s commitment to serving our community and helping our seniors live safer and more secure lives.”

AARP and NY Attorney General
Photo courtesy of AARP

“The safety, financial stability, and dignity of our older adult community members are among the highest priorities of Henry Street Settlement,” said David Garza, president and CEO. “We thank the AARP and Attorney General Letitia James for their ongoing vigilance against fraud that particularly targets the most vulnerable individuals. Henry Street is grateful to AARP for holding this important shredding event for the second year running and for its outstanding work to ensure the safety of our older neighbors. Moreover, we commend the Attorney General for her tireless efforts to fight fraud across New York and to protect our community from the profound harm of identity theft.”

The shredding events are held outdoors and offer both walk-up and drive-thru options. Attendees should limit materials to three bags per person, and paper only is accepted. Magazines, newspapers, books, and cardboard are not permitted. Services are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Here’s a spring-cleaning checklist from security experts to rid your home of paper with sensitive info:

  • Old documents: Papers that carry your Social Security number, birthdate, signature, account numbers, passwords or PIN numbers.
  • Banking: Canceled or unused checks. Shred deposit slips and ATM and credit card receipts
  • Credit Cards: Preapproved credit card applications and incentive/gift checks from credit card companies.
  • Medical: Unneeded medical bills.
  • Investments: Investment account statements.
  • Obsolete ID cards: Expired driver’s licenses, medical insurance cards and passports.

The events are supported by the AARP Fraud Watch Network and the AARP Foundation. For more information on dates, times, and locations, as well as tips for staying safe from identity theft, visit aarp.org/NYStopScams.

To learn more about the AARP Fraud Watch Network and its efforts to combat scams, visit aarp.org/FraudWatchNetwork.

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