FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, May 15, 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: Abigail Lootens / Katyusca Abreu
Department of Consumer Affairs
(212) 436-0042

Consumer Affairs Announces Exclusive Data about Identity Theft in New York City as part of Inaugural Identity Theft Prevention Week

8th Annual Shred Fest Kicks Off its First-ever Identity Theft Prevention Week

Events to Address Identity Theft of Seniors and Victims of Domestic Violence

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today announced its first Identity Theft Prevention Week, which will commence on Saturday, May 16 with the 8th Annual Shred Fest and educate New Yorkers about how to protect their identities. As part of the announcement, DCA worked with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to compile never-before-released data about identity theft in New York City. DCA has also coordinated events with numerous partners to address identity theft for seniors and victims of domestic violence, two groups who are particularly vulnerable to becoming victims of identity theft crimes.

“Identity theft, which has topped the Federal Trade Commission’s list of complaints for 15 years in a row, affected thousands of New Yorkers last year,” said DCA Commissioner Julie Menin. “This crime, which can be financially crippling, only continues to grow and we know it often goes unreported, especially when the victim is vulnerable or knows the thief as can often be the case with seniors and victims of domestic violence. That is why, this year, we are expanding our popular paper-shredding event to two days and hosting our first-ever Identity Theft Prevention Week. We want to ensure that New Yorkers take the necessary steps to protect themselves by shredding personal documents at Shred Fest. We are also, thanks to the Federal Trade Commission, releasing data about identity theft in New York City and partnering with sister agencies to host a series of events throughout the week.”

Identity Theft in New York City
The FTC reports that in 2014, more than 330,000 Americans filed complaints about identity theft, making it the top complaint for the 15th year in a row. Nearly 16,000 of these complaints came from New York, ranking the state 17th in the nation for identity-related crimes. However, data about the number of complaints and profiles of victims in New York City has never been released. Working with the FTC, DCA has compiled a report that outlines the number of complaints by borough, the age ranges of complainants, and the ways the victims’ identities were used.

More than half of the complaints (8,704) filed in New York State were filed by New York City residents. With 30 percent of complaints, Brooklyn filed the most complaints; the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens each accounted for approximately 20 percent of the complaints; and Staten Island reported about 6 percent of the complaints filed by New Yorkers. Nearly half of New York City victims reported being between the ages of 20 and 39. These complaints also revealed the top misuses of stolen personal information, which include: (1) government documents or benefits fraud such as tax fraud; (2) credit card fraud such as opening new accounts; (3) phone or utility fraud such as opening new wireless telephone or utilities accounts; (3) bank fraud such as making unauthorized electronic fund transfers and (4) employment-related fraud. Other uses include loan, rental and medical frauds.
















Staten Island






The Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics’ most recent report indicates that less than 10 percent of identity theft victims reported the incident to police or contacted a credit bureau. The report also estimated 16.6 million people experienced at least one incident of identity theft in 2012 with the associated financial losses totaling $24.7 billion.

8th Annual Shred Fest
On May 16 and 17, DCA will host the City’s 8th Annual Shred Fest, a free paper-shredding event to increase public awareness about identity theft prevention. The event will take place at 10 locations across the city, for the first time, over two days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (rain or shine), or until trucks are filled to capacity. Personal documents such as bank statements, paycheck stubs and credit card applications will be shredded in industrial shredders mounted with TV monitors so consumers can verify for themselves that their materials are shredded securely. Last year, more than 2,500 New Yorkers shredded more than 63 tons of personal documents; they have shredded nearly 335 tons of personal documents at Shred Fest over the past seven years. All shredded material is securely disposed of and recycled. For a list of all locations and identity theft prevention tips, visit or call 311. 

“Identity theft is a crime that affects so many New Yorkers every day,” said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “Many times the victim is unaware that this crime has been committed against them. With the two-day 8th Annual Shred Fest event, New Yorkers can bring their personal information documents to 10 locations throughout the City and watch their documents be safely shredded and securely disposed of. Our environment benefits as tons of shredded paper will be taken to the proper facilities for recycling.”

“Identity theft and other forms of cybercrime may seem overwhelmingly pervasive or difficult to prevent, but there are many simple precautions that New Yorkers can take to protect themselves and their assets,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. “One of the most effective measures you can take is to shred documents you no longer need, particularly if they contain personal identifying information, which is why I am proud to co-sponsor Shred Fest 2015. Other tips, which you can find on, include frequently examining your financial accounts for suspicious activity, and updating software that protects your computer. If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, please call my Office’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft hotline at 212-335-9600. We are here to help.”

“Municipal Credit Union (MCU) is pleased to partner with the Department of Consumer Affairs for its 8th Annual Shred Fest. MCU places a very high priority on keeping our members’ information safe and secure, as well as educating our members on identity theft and how it could affect their financial well-being. Our participation in Shred Fest is one key way we do this. We encourage our members and NYC residents to take advantage of this opportunity to protect themselves from identity theft by visiting one of the 10 Shred Fest locations throughout the city to safely discard their personal information,” said Corey Fernandes, MCU vice president of business development/member relations.

“At Confidential Shredding, documents don’t get away from us,” said Neil Wagman, business development executive at Confidential Shredding.

“With more and more individuals falling victim to identity theft each year, the Shred Fest event is a great way to be sure your personal documents are destroyed in a safe and secure manner,” said Data-Struction.

“State-of-the-art shredding trucks destroy sensitive documents into tiny pieces right in front of your eyes,”‎ explains Eli Rowe, CEO of LionCage Shredding. “LionCage has been participating at these events for the last few years and is proud to work with NYC’s DCA to fight the largest crime in our amazing city, identity theft.”

“Identity theft is at an all time high right now, properly destroying your sensitive records at the end of its life cycle is the most effective way to ensure one does not become a victim,” said Rummy Blau, general manager at ShredUp, Inc. “NYC’s DCA is doing a tremendous service to its citizens by providing such an enormous event and we here at ShredUp couldn’t be more excited to participate in this momentous occasion and in helping our fellow neighbors ensuring their personal good name is never compromised.” 

Shred Fest is hosted by DCA in cooperation of the Department of Parks & Recreation, the Department of Sanitation, New York District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. and the Municipal Credit Union. The event also received generous support from Confidential Shredding, Data-Struction, LionCage Shredding, PROSHRED, ShredUp, Time Shred Services and USA SHRED.

Professional Development Workshop:
ID Theft: Addressing Financial Abuse in Domestic Violence Cases
On May 20, DCA and the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV) will host a professional development workshop for domestic violence advocates, lawyers, financial advisors, social workers, social service providers and others about addressing identity theft in the context of domestic violence. Presenters include NYPD’s Crime Prevention Unit, the Queens District Attorney’s Office, a Financial Clinic financial coach from one of DCA’s Financial Empowerment Centers, a self sufficiency coordinator from the Queens Family Justice Center, and an attorney from Manhattan Legal Services, Inc. For more information and to rsvp, visit  

“Most people think of domestic violence as a punch, a hit or a slap, however, identity theft by an intimate partner is a common form of abuse and can have a devastating impact on the ability of a victim to obtain economic self-sufficiency,” said OCDV Commissioner Rose Pierre-Louis. “I applaud the Department of Consumer Affairs for convening an identity theft forum and highlighting abusive behavior in this context. Victims of intimate-partner identify-theft should know that they are not alone and help is available.”

“Identity theft, credit card fraud and other financial scams are not merely paper crimes,” said NYPD Police Commissioner William J. Bratton. “A significant amount of violence is often associated with those who engage in this criminal activity. In many areas of our country this type of crime has become the new organized crime. Combating these problems requires an organized approach. Today’s announcement demonstrates the type of collaboration needed to most effectively address the prevention of identity theft.”

“At the heart of domestic violence is the need of one to control another human being,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “Identity theft often occurs in these situations as the abuser tries to make certain that their victim cannot escape to a better life. That is why it is so important for one to secure their personal identity information and there are some simple steps to take to do so. First, monitor your credit report and that of your children to make sure there are no inquiries or accounts you did not make. Second, call all of your banks and credit card companies and place passwords on your accounts that only you will know. Third, safe guard all important personal identifying information and remember to shred any mail that you discard that contains this information.”

“The Financial Clinic coaches have seen firsthand the devastating effects of financial abuse—including identity theft—on domestic violence victims,” said Haidee Cabusora, director of policy, services and research at The Financial Clinic. “The Clinic developed a customized financial coaching toolkit for domestic violence case managers and advocates to train them to screen survivors for financial security concerns like identity theft and help advocates map strategies for safety planning around financial issues. The Financial Clinic trains advocates both in person and via its online platform,, on how to screen survivors and make referrals (when necessary) in a range of consumer debt cases, including credit card collection, student loan default, foreclosure, tax disputes and identity theft. The Clinic looks forward to sharing some of these tools and tips during this important event.”

“Dealing with identity theft and its consequences can be overwhelming for all victims, but domestic violence survivors face additional hurdles where the identity theft was perpetrated by their abuser,” said Mary McCune, senior staff attorney at the Manhattan Legal Services. “This training will help domestic violence survivors and those who support them identify safe strategies for dealing with this type of identity theft, as well as identity theft committed by a stranger.”

ID Theft Workshops for Seniors
On May 19–22, DCA and the Department of Aging (DFTA) will host identity theft workshops, including credit report reviews, at four senior centers, including BronxWorks Innovative Senior Center, Ridgewood Bushwick Innovative Senior Center, HANAC Harmony JVL Innovative Senior Center, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. The workshops are hosted in partnership with the Community Service Society, Coalition for Debtor Education and the Financial Planning Association of New York Pro Bono Committee. For more information, visit

“The elderly are often the most targeted populations for scams involving financial fraud and identity theft,” explained DFTA Commissioner Donna Corrado. “Identity Theft Prevention Week will not only raise awareness about these scams, but DCA and DFTA will conduct workshops in four senior centers that will alert seniors and all New Yorkers as to how best protect themselves. Recommendations that include not sharing personal information on calls they did not initiate, shredding all financial information, freezing credit cards if they lose their wallets, and reporting any incidents immediately to the police are all effective ways to avoid being a victim of fraud and identity theft.”

“The Financial Coaching Corps at Community Service Society of New York helps clients protect their good names and reputations by developing an awareness of the crime of identity theft, helping clients report cases of identity theft, and disputing and removing credit report entries related to identity theft,” said Reyes Irizarry, project director at Financial Coaching Corps.

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) licenses, inspects, and educates businesses, assists and informs consumers, mediates complaints, and offers free financial counseling and safe banking products. DCA enforces the Consumer Protection Law, the Paid Sick Leave Law and other related business laws throughout New York City and licenses nearly 80,000 businesses in 55 different industries. For more information, call 311 or visit DCA online at or on its social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Tips are also available in Español (Spanish), 中文 (Chinese), Kreyòl Ayisyen (Haitian Creole), 한국어 (Korean), and Русский (Russian).

Protect Your Personal Information

  • Be alert to suspicious offers by phone, mail, text, and email. Avoid giving personal information over the phone, by email, text, or on social media sites. Never click on unfamiliar links even if they are from sources you trust; they could be “phishing” scams that trick you into sharing personal information by looking trustworthy. And remember email addresses and phone numbers can be spoofed (or faked) to look like they are from someone you know.
  • Protect your computer, tablet, and smartphone against viruses and “malware” with security and firewall software. Avoid typing your personal information when using unsecured Wi-Fi; create strong, personal passwords; and only download software and apps from trusted sources. Don’t overshare personal information on social media sites and be cautious with geotagging softwares. Visit for more information on how to be safe, secure, and responsible online.
  • Be careful when using public computers. Delete any personal documents and empty the Recycle Bin on the desktop before you log off. Check Internet settings and make sure the computer is set to delete your browsing history. Never use your credit or debit card to make online purchases on public computers.
  • Review your free credit report every year. As one way to see if you have been the victim of identity theft, download your free annual credit report at
  • Limit the cards you carry with you. Only carry credit or debit cards you plan to use and store others in a safe place. Never carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
  • Watch for warning signs that your child’s identity has been stolen. Some identity thieves, including relatives, may steal a child’s identity because it usually takes longer for anyone to notice. If you suspect your child’s identity has been stolen, you can ask the credit reporting agencies to do a manual search of their files and place a fraud alert. Also, be sure to check their credit report near their 16th birthday so any errors can be corrected before they apply to college, for a job, or loan.

Monitor Your Mail

  • Be aware when your monthly bills and account statements typically arrive. Be on alert for missing statements in the mail. Sign up for electronic statements and online bill pay to avoid the risk of an identity thief using your mail.
  • Review your bank and credit card statements for unusual activity. Even a few minutes’ look can alert you early to a problem.
  • Put your mail on hold when you go on vacation. Visit or call 1-800-275-8777 to request Hold Mail Service.
  • How can you protect your identity if you’re a victim of domestic violence? Safeguard your mail and personal information like your social security number, passwords and PINS. Have mail with personal or financial information delivered to a trusted friend or family member or open a post office box. Check your and your children’s credit reports annually.

Be Aware When Shopping

  • Check receipts. Make sure receipts do not show your credit card’s expiration date or more than its last five digits. The law requires this of New York City businesses.
  • Keep your eye on your credit card when making a purchase. Some employees have used handheld machines illegally to swipe card information and use it later to hack into accounts.
  • Be alert when using an ATM. Some identity thieves install skimmers on ATM machines that can read the information on your card. These small devices are hard to detect and go over the normal card slot. Use ATMs that are in the bank lobby or under video surveillance and always cover the keypad when you enter your PIN in case there’s a hidden camera. If you notice tampering with an ATM, don’t use it and report it to the bank.
  • Did you shop at a retailer that’s been victim of a data breach? Check your receipts to determine which credit card could be in jeopardy. Monitor your statement closely and contact one of the three major credit reporting bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report. If you used your debit or ATM card, monitor your bank account closely. If you find any unauthorized transactions, immediately notify the bank.

Reduce Paper

  • Just shred it! Machine shred papers you no longer need to save, rather than throwing them out, if they contain personal information such as your:
    • Social Security Number
    • Bank and credit card account numbers
    • Password/PIN information
    • Birth date
    • Private contact information
    • Signature
  • Go paperless. Request online account statements and pay online whenever possible.


  • Close all fraudulent accounts. Call the fraud department of each company where an account was fraudulently opened in your name or shows purchases you did not make.
  • Report it. Report identity theft to your local police precinct and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at or call 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338). Keep copies of the report and the complaint.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit report with one of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion. By placing a fraud alert on your credit report, creditors must contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts. Carefully document all correspondence.
  • Consider free, one-on-one, professional fi­nancial counseling. Visit or contact 311 and ask for an NYC Financial Empowerment Center near you. Counselors can help you sort out your financial difficulties.

Business tips are also available in Español (Spanish), 中文 (Chinese), Kreyòl Ayisyen (Haitian Creole), 한국어 (Korean) and Русский (Russian).

  • Implement security protocols. Review how your business protects customer information –i.e., where information is stored and who has access to it – and change protocols as necessary to increase security. Train employees so they know the company’s privacy policy and how to protect customers’ personal information.
  • Ask for ID. Employees should ask for identification when customers pay by credit card.  If employees are suspicious of a transaction and think the card may be stolen, they should call the store’s credit card processing service and report “Code 10.” This phrase unobtrusively alerts the credit card company of potential identity theft activity.
  • Collect less information. Only collect the information necessary to complete the transaction and store it only as long as needed.  The less customer information you store, the less you have to protect.
  • Restrict access. Make sure documents that contain customers’ identifying information, such as applications or merchant copies of credit card receipts, are not in sight of employees or the public, or otherwise accessible. A locked storage space can offer good protection.
  • Safeguard computers. Install antivirus and firewall software on computers and regularly update it. Make sure that password-protected screen savers turn on once a computer is idle.
  • Stay current with online security measures. Your technology manager should remain aware of new issues or areas of concern in online security. Check with the Federal Trade Commission at for recommended resources about technology updates. Use the Federal Communications Commission’s Small Biz Cyber planner at to create a custom cyber security plan for your company.