The Importance of Shredding Documents - Why shred?
Incidents of identity theft are rising rapidly. As you are probably aware, identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America today. A major, contributing factor - one that is easily controlled - is how we discard of documentation containing personal information. “Dumpster diving,” or rifling through trash cans for personal information, is a common tactic used by ID thieves.
You are definitely placing yourself at risk if you don't shred sensitive documentation.
Assuming you place your trash at the curb, or in a public dumpster, the U.S. Supreme Court has indicated that someone can legally dig through your trash.
In the decision California vs. Greenwood
, they stated that the "expectation of privacy in trash left for collection in an area accessible to the public... is unreasonable." This implies that someone could legally dig through your trash looking for credit card receipts, bank account numbers, or your Social Security number.
This great risk can be easily controlled by using a paper shredder to destroy all documents and files before discarding them. By shredding all documentation, containing sensitive, personal information, you are taking one of the most important steps towards protecting your identity, and safeguarding your family's future.
Invest in a shredder for your home or office, ideally one that “cross cuts” (slices in two directions).
If your shredder can’t handle plastic, use scissors to cut up expired credit cards and identification before discarding them. For larger disposal jobs, consider hiring a shredding company.
What should you shred?
The easy answer - anything that has a signature, account number, Social Security number, medical or legal information. In short, destroy all sensitive information including junk mail such as pre-approved credit offers.
Here are two lists, one for your home and one for your work, that could serve as good instruction guides for what to shred: