By early afternoon, the Access Records truck bulged with more than 10,000 pounds of shredded paper.
A steady stream of people dumped off reams bank statements and personal records for shredding last Friday, documents that in the wrong hands could be used for identity theft and fraud.
The second annual Shred It! event, sponsored by the Better Business Bureau-Vancouver Island highlighted the necessity of shredding and securing personal documents to avoid identity theft.
But as BBB points out, people picking through recycling bins to steal personal papers is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the seemingly endless array of scams that confront Greater Victoria residents every day.
The BBB office in Victoria at times receives more than 50 phone calls per day, and dozens of emails from people unsure if a person, charity or company that called them is legitimate, said Carol Gardener, an investigator for the BBB.
“There are lots of phishing scams through email, lots of people calling to solicit personal information,” Gardener said at the Shred It! event at Tillicum Centre. “Lots of supposed companies want credit card information over the phone who won’t identify themselves. That is the first red flag if they won’t say who they are.”
Gardener said the BBB has access to databases that can verify if a company is registered in the U.S. or Canada, although virtually no legitimate company will call clients and demand credit card and other personal information.
For emails or phone calls seeking personal information, the BBB refers people to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
People unsure about the legitimacy of a charity can contact the Canada Revenue Agency, which keeps a public record of all charities (and non-profit organizations), their finances, and which groups have had their charitable status revoked.
Most people who call the BBB regarding scams are seniors, who are typically the most targeted demographic.
“A lot of seniors call us who aren’t computer savvy or don’t know how to look up information themselves,” Gardener said.
Keep an eye out for Scam Watch starting in November on Shaw TV, featuring Victoria-based BBB staff and police talking about how to protect yourself from scams and frauds.
For more on the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, see antifraudcentre.ca.