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Shredfest provides extra protection against identity theft

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Identity theft is one of the top crimes in the United States and residents across Wisconsin took part in Shredfest on Saturday, October 19th to help protect themselves against such a violation.

Concerned residents waited in line to shred thousands of pounds of paper.

"These are old client records," said John Machulak. "We're worried about identity theft for our clients."

The Better Business Bureau says identity theft cases in Wisconsin jumped nearly 50% last year in Wisconsin, simply from citizens leaving a paper trail.

"Think of anything that has your tax ID number, your social security number, your back account information," said Liz Fredrichs, Executive Vice President of Wisconsin BBB. "These people actually go dumpster diving. They are going through trash."

Last year, organizers of the event collected 30 tons of paper documents to be destroyed in a massive, mobile shredder.

"They have a special way of shredding that people can't reconstruct the paper," said Fredrichs. "From here, the paper is taken to a local recycling center. Then it's shipped off to a paper mill where it's turned into toilet paper and paper towels."

The service is not only good for the environment, but it's offered free of charge -- providing peace of mind to those worried about their valuable information getting into the wrong hands.

The BBB warns those between the ages of 20-29 are the highest targeted group for identity theft, making up about 20% of all victims.