The KISS program — Keeping the Identities of Seniors Safe — was designed to protect the identities of seniors while assisting them in the shredding of sensitive documents and other materials.
Starting Monday through Sept. 10 seniors can have their credit card receipts, bank statements tax records and other documents shredded, free of charge, by bringing them to their local town or city hall. Eighteen town halls and Hudson City Hall in Columbia County each have locked 64-gallon containers on site where documents can be dropped off and kept secure until they are shredded, said Columbia County Clerk’s Records Services Manager Justin Weaver, who oversees the program.
“It benefits all the seniors that would otherwise have their documents just lying around where it could compromise their identity,” Weaver said. “A lot of people don’t throw things away properly, you don’t want to throw things away with your Social Security Number on it, for example, or your date of birth, any of those things could be used against you, people could create an identity just based off simple things we throw away.”
Papers and documents are secured on-site at town and city halls until they are shredded by ProShred Security.
“ProShred shows up at each location at the end of the program, at the end of each quarter,” Weaver said. “Instead of how it used to run where the shredding company would show up pick up the barrels, then drive the barrels to New Lebanon to shred, now everything is being done on-site, which is even more secure, in my opinion.”
The program began in 2013, Weaver said. It takes place four times a year. In the previous quarter, the KISS program shredded 3,712 pounds of paper. Since 2013 the program has shredded 74,224 pounds, or 37.1 tons, of paper. Despite COVID-19, seniors were still able to shred more than 15,000 pounds of paper since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. And the number continues to grow.
“It is a free program for the seniors, which is also important,” Weaver said. “It’s paid for through the county clerk’s office. That right there is saving seniors money, it also saves them time. If they had a personal shredding machine, and a whole bunch of things to shred, a lot of seniors don’t have the ability to continuously do that motion of picking up the paper and putting it into the shredding machine. This allows an easy drop-off and to have the work done for them.”
Seniors are encouraged to contact their local town or city hall for hours of operation and more information on the program. Future dates for the KISS Program will be Nov. 29 through Dec. 10. Weaver can be contacted with any questions at 518-822-0143.
New York state had more than 67,000 complaints of identity theft in 2020, according to the Office of the State Comptroller. That number was up 85% from the previous year and up more than four times from a decade earlier, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Identity theft can cause a significant risk of financial loss to victims, according to the comptroller’s office. The U.S. Department of Justice reported $15.1 billion in financial losses nationwide in 2018.
In addition to monetary loss, the comptroller’s office said stolen personal information can lead to other issues later when a victim may have trouble getting a job, renting an apartment, obtaining a tax benefit or receiving a loan.