Zainab Chaudhry held onto her father’s tax documents for years after his death, for fear the sensitive information they contained about her family might get into the wrong hands.
On Tuesday, she finally got a chance to destroy the piles of documents she had saved up, thanks to the New York Consumer Protection Board’s first “free shredding day.”
“I really felt like a burden has been lifted off my shoulders,” said Chaudhry.
The event was open to the public and allowed “several hundred” people to shred and dispose of private documents, including papers, discs and credit cards, said Mindy Bockstein, executive director of the board.
The agency spent less than $1,000 — thanks in part to donations from an Albany shredding business — to promote and carry out the four-hour event.
People who were concerned about just dropping off their documents with strangers were allowed to walk them outdoors to a shredding truck that sucked the materials in and displayed their destruction on a tiny black and white screen.
“Many people did not want to just leave it, they actually came to the truck because they actually wanted to see it shredded,” Bockstein said.
It can take years for people to climb out from under identity theft and the credit problems it creates, Bockstein said. This was a chance to educate the public and to allow people to be proactive about protecting themselves, she said.
The public reacted so positively that the Consumer Protection Board plans to eventually organize more shredding events, and to bring it to different parts of the state. The agency also made a point of disposing of the destroyed
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