How much is your privacy and personal data security worth? Certainly a lot more than the $50 to $100 cost of buying a shredder and the five minutes a day it’d take to destroy your unneeded documents.
The fact is that every single piece of paper that bears your name and address, or, even worse, account numbers and other financial information, is like gold in the hands of a crook. It can be used for identity theft, fraudulent account applications or even just used to acquire information about you and build a picture of your life that might be saleable, say, to a marketing company.
Don’t think that would happen to you? All of the above occur every day. Most of that data theft and abuse happens online, through data tracking and theft. But a proportion of it comes from dumpster and garbage-can “diving”, records you leave lying around (like those magazines you passed on to your doctor’s office), documents you give to others with your
personal information still attached, and even trawling of waste disposal and recycling depots.
Tearing up the documents by hand isn’t the solution. It’s time consuming and, unless done carefully, won’t destroy the data. In fact, there have been instances where crooks have been able to piece together torn-up credit card application forms and fraudulently apply for the card in the victim’s name.
Bring On the Shredder
If you’re donating magazines, simply tear out the address details or obliterate them with a marker pen. For the rest, bring on the shredder! With most documents, there’ll likely only be one or two pages with your personal details on, so you don’t need to make a big production of this. The rest can go in the garbage.
What if you have stacks of old records, like tax documents that are past their “keep-until” date? Three possibilities:
- Do 15 minutes shredding a day until they’re done.
- Use (and pay for) a commercial shredding service.
- Search for a free shredding community event.
Bottom line: Your personal details are potentially worth a fortune. Guard them with your life… and your shredder