Throwing documents with account numbers and sensitive financial information away may seem harmless. However, throwing away confidential documents can give would-be identity thieves an easy way to steal your personal information. An ambitious thief can take this information and begin to assemble a fake profile of your identity.
To combat the potential cost and effort involved in recovering from identity theft, many people purchase paper shredders for their home or office. Shredding personal information and financial documents is an effective tool against ID theft. Destroying these documents, making them unreadable, is a simple step in protecting your identity.
Best Practices for Paper Shredding at HomePlace your new paper shredder where you open mail or pay your bills. Instead of throwing these documents away, make it a habit of destroying them. Shred junk mail with your name on it, old bills, bank statements, or tax documents. Destroy anything from financial-services companies, such as pre-approved credit card offers. Shred "convenience checks" that arrive with credit card statements since these are real checks tied to your account. Shred other promotional offers tied to your accounts, like invitations to add an authorized credit card user or another phone line to your bill.
Best Practices for Paper Shredding at the OfficePaper applications filled out by employees, e-mails that have been printed, and all printed employee documentation that is no longer needed should be shredded. Shred all printed materials the moment they are no longer required. Printed customer documentation should be shredded immediately after use. Put paper shredders near printers and copiers for secure shredding of documents that might be left on the paper tray without being claimed.
Choosing the Right Type of Paper Shredder
With several types and dozens of models of paper shredders to select from, it is easy to become confused about which one is right for you. Let's look at the two most common types of shredders, cross-cut and strip-cut paper shredders, to learn the differences between the two and decide which one is best for you.
A strip-cut shredder is a basic, common type of shredder. A strip-cut shredder cuts papers into strips, creating ribbons of paper that can be challenging to put together again. With a single cutting action, strip shredders allow for high-volume disposal of old folders and documents. A strip-cut shredder works well in situations where the speed of shredding is essential. If the price is a concern, the strip-cut shredder is the more affordable of the two, making it an excellent entry-level choice. Choosing the Right Type of Paper Shredder Like most shredders, strip-cut shredders aren't just for cutting paper. The strong motors on most shredder models can cut through stapled documents, CDs, DVDs, and expired credit cards without getting jammed or damaged. Many strip-cut models have a built-in jam detector that pauses or reverses grinding wheels when there is too much resistance to push through. The main difference between strip-cut shredders and cross-cut shredders is that cross-cut shredders introduce a second step of shredding. As strips of paper come out, a sharp blade slices crosswise to reduce documents to small squares or diamonds, cutting the paper both lengthwise and crosswise. These pieces because nearly impossible to put back together, making this a more secure option for classified or secure documentation. Would-be identity thieves would have a much harder time obtaining sensitive information from these shredded remains.