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AMA Shredding Events take a bite out of identity theft
Free community events protect against fraud while raising donations for food banks
When AMA started hosting free document shredding events in 2007 there were a lot of lonely volunteers in empty parking lots. But as the threat of identity fraud has grown over the years, so have the crowds.
Some events see up to 2,000 people pull in for the drive-thru service. At a large event partners like Shred-it, Paper Cuts or Lethbridge Mobile Shredding might fill eight mobile shredding trucks - that's 25 tonnes of confidential confetti that ends up safely recycled. Nowadays it's the identity thieves who are kicking sand across the street, watching jealously as all those SINs slip safely through their grasp before getting recycled into coffee cups.
"It's that total relief that comes over people when they get rid of all that dead weight that keeps me smiling," says AMA's Community Engagement Manager Melanie Houley "It could be 20 years of credit card statements or just a year's worth of everyday mail, but when the shredding truck eats all your personal information up right in front of you, that's actually pretty cool."
The events are staffed by AMA employees and volunteers from community organizations, but the impact goes far beyond the protection of personal identities. Albertans stopping by don't mind making a donation to the local food bank, which helps protect a lot of families who could use a little hand.
After wrapping up the 2015 events AMA had helped close to 64,000 Albertans safely dispose of 1,360 tonnes of documents, and raised over $131,000 and nearly 55,000 lbs in food bank donations. After just four events in 2016, the generosity being shown by AMA members raiding their pantries and stuffing $20 bills in the donation box has been heartwarming.
"These free events for AMA members have really become a focal point for Alberta food banks. Our members understand that this is a great way to pay it forward, and as the Alberta economy struggles we're seeing an incredible response. Food banks can stretch every $10 donation to help prepare 30 meals."
Identity Theft - Fast Facts
- According to RCMP, identity theft is just as profitable as the drug trade, costing the Canadian economy an estimated $10 billion to $30 billion each year.
- According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, in 2010 more than 18,000 Canadians reported being a victim of identity-related fraud.
- Canadians spend up to 20 million hours and over $150 million in out-of-pocket expenses recovering from identity theft each year.
- It’s estimated that almost 7% of Canadians have been victims of identity theft but that only one out of every five victims report the crime to police.
- Being convicted of identity theft in Canada can net you a maximum jail term of 10 years.
The Alberta Motor Association (AMA) is among the largest membership organizations in Alberta, representing more than 973,000 members. As a leading advocate for traffic safety, travel and consumer protection and crime prevention, AMA represents the interests of its members to industry and all levels of government and helps protect the things they care about most. Visit www.ama.ab.ca to learn more.