Protect yourself against identity theft: Shred important documents

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Most people make it easy for identity thieves, by throwing important documents into the trash. Thieves can also go through your mailbox to find the information they need to steal your money, ruin your credit, or worse. Sometimes they commit crimes under your name, leaving you with the criminal record.

The best way to ensure thieves don't get that information is to shred it. Some local residents were able to take advantage of a free service to protect them against identity theft Saturday.

Newschannel 7 teamed up with the Gilmore Services and the Better Business Bureau to host a shredding event at the Wal-Mart in Lynn Haven.

Residents had the opportunity to drop off up to 50-pounds of unneeded documents to be shredded and eventually recycled. Experts say shredding is the best method of protection against identity theft

“When we look at identity theft victims, they spend almost 300 hours on average trying to fix the damage done by the identity thieves. So anything we can do, take a couple minutes right now to destroy these documents, we'll save a lot of heartache in the long run," said Karen Szulczewski with the Better Business Bureau.

Florida is the number 1 state in the nation for identity theft. Bay County authorities investigated more than 700 cases last year.

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