Shred Papers to Protect Against ID Theft

Don’t leave yourself vulnerable, shred all papers that could be used by an identity thief.

16 Tips To Defend Against Identity Theft
And Protect Yourself from Financial Ruin

Use paper shredders as your first line of defense against identity theft at home and at your workplace. Paper shredders cut paper differently depending on the shredder type. Some cuts are better than others. For example, one type will cut the paper into strips. Nice…but the patient id thief can put those pieces of paper back together fairly easily. There is the cross-cut shredder that will turn your paper documents, old credit cards and cd disks into something resembling confetti. This is a good, efficient type of shredder and they can be had for a reasonable price. Then there are the more pricy paper shredders that cut the paper into something resembling “snow flakes” and another that cuts the paper into “diamond shapes.” No one can put these pieces back together into a document that can be read.

Here are 16 key tips to keep that paper shredder protecting you from identity theft for years to come.

Paper shredders can help keep you safe from identity theft.

    1. Typical paper that you want to destroy is 8-1/2 by 11. When you buy a shredder, make sure that the “throat size” of the shredder is at least nine inches for easy feeding of paper.  If you get a larger throat size, then you can feed in the paper at an angle, which really destroys Social Security numbers an other vital information more effectively because everything is cut at an angle.

Shred paper, shredded checks, credit cards.

  1. A lot of the paper shredders are activated by putting paper in the throat. If there are little fingers around your house attached to your darling children or grandchildren, get the kind of shredder that needs to be switched on and that won’t be activated by putting a piece of paper or little fingers into the throat.
  2. When you are planning to buy a paper shredder, ask yourself and the store clerk, what can it destroy. Can it handle staples and paper clips? That’s important. Maybe you won’t be feeding it a steady diet of paper clips, but these things do slip in now and then and you want a paper shredder that can handle that.
  3. How many pieces of paper do you need to shred a day on an average basis? For home use, a paper shredder that can shred 100 pages a day is typically more than adequate. But if you have an ongoing large volume of paper to shred, don’t do it with a cheap, rickety shredder because the machine will not hold up. Further, if the user’s manual boasts that the shredder can shred 10 or 15 pages at a time, always figure on less.
  4. If you have responsibility for hiring people and collecting their records, collecting credit card receipts at the store, or another job where you obtain personal data on people, use a shredder to destroy these documents when you are through with them. A paper shredder not only helps protect you from identity theft but also the people with whom you interact. Never throw documents such as those mentioned above into the dumpster at the back of the building where you work. Dumpsters in the back of office buildings are prime targets for “dumpster divers.”
  5. Use the paper shredder to keep your trade secrets or your first novel secure. If you need to make multiple copies of something, shred the old ones as you go, if possible.
  6. Don’t buy the cheapest shredder at the office supply store. That was our first purchase and it lasted about one afternoon. The cheap paper shredders are meant for just a few pieces of paper and quickly jam if you have a big job or even a not-so-big job.  Spend the money on a good one and you will remain more secure from identity theft. Even if you have a substantial shredder, pay attention to how much you are putting in it. The quantity of paper it can handle is printed on the outside of the shredder. Stay well below that maximum to enjoy a functioning shredder for a long time.
  7. Watch what your shred. Do not put anything that is gummy or sticky into a shredder or you can kiss it goodbye. Keep all food and drinks away from the shredder.Paper shredders and chicken wings don’t mix well…the chicken wings always get ruined!
  8. Paper shredders fit over wastepaper baskets or have their own container. Make sure that container is relatively empty when you start shredding otherwise the machine could get jammed by backed up paper and break.
  9. Lubricate the machine regularly with ONLY the recommended lubricant to keep its teeth sharp. Read the user’s manual so that you and the shredder can work well together for a long time. When you have a lot of work for the shredder to do, let it rest occasionally to avoid problems with the machine. Do not let it get overheated.
  10. The shredder is typically a fickle machine and you need to handle all paper jams as per manufacturer’s recommendations. No grabbing the paper that is jammed in there and pulling it out. Work with the machine and it will work with you.
  11. Be sure the shredder is plugged into the proper type of electrical outlet. Although the shredder is a tough machine in many ways, its electrical parts are delicate. Supply the proper plug before operating the machine.
  12. Don’t put thick sheets of plastic into the shredder without reading the owner’s manual  first.
  13. Be patient with your shredder. Sometimes they overheat. If they reach a critical point, they will shut down. Best bet is to wait 15 or 20 minutes before using it again. After that happens once, be sensitive to the machine so that you can stop shredding and let it rest before it gets so hot that it shuts down.
  14. If you have a lot of material to shred, consider hiring a reliable paper shredding service. Fire up the laptop and key in “paper shredding services near me.” Naturally, if you are destroying a lot of sensitive documents, check out the company first. Our best advice: if you have really sensitive stuff, do it yourself to ensure it is destroyed. That’s the kind of stuff we like to shred and then burn in the fireplace!
  15. The question always arises, what should you shred? The easy answer is anything personal and anything with your name on it including envelopes and magazine labels. Leave nothing to chance when you are leaving your recycling materials on the street.
  16. When you empty the paper shredder basket, shake the shreds around somewhat to make them even more disorderly than they are. Identity thieves have been know to work for hours or days to put shreds of paper back together to get an account number. There is nothing they won’t do to avoid doing an honest day’s work!

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