Protect yourself against identity theft and fraud with a shredder
The importance of safely disposing of documents is something that most of us are now aware of and a shredder should be an essential item in every office and home.
But, just like every other type of tech, there are multiple models out there, so how do you go about choosing the best shredder?
With so much choice it can be confusing to find the right one at the right price but in this post we will look at the various options and hopefully try to steer you in the right direction if you are looking for a new shredder.
But first of all let’s consider…
Why you need a shredder
As incredible as it sounds research shows around 25% of UK citizens have been the victims of some form of identity theft. Much of that can be attributed to confidential information and documents ending up in the hands of criminals instead of being destroyed.
The only way to stop (offline) identity theft is to prevent your personal information falling into the wrong hands. The easiest and best way to do this is to invest in a shredder.
By shredding sensitive information and personal documents you are alleviating the risk associated with throwing paperwork into the bin or keeping them around the home.
But it isn’t just at home were problems with identity theft arise. There are even bigger risks for businesses, especially those which hold customer information.
Most organisations now have a policy of shredding documents and those which don’t really should have.
But, of course, the heavy use a commercial organisation will subject their machine too will require a more robust model than those used in the home.
What should we shred?
The basic rule of thumb here is to shred all information that you wouldn’t want a stranger to know about. So, bank and credit card statements, financial and insurance documents and anything which contains personal details including your name and address.
Don’t forget to shred paid monthly bills paying particular attention to those which have payment slips attached. These usually include all your account details and are a fraudsters dream to get hold of.
Similarly wage slips, tax documents, medical information and social security details should all be shredded. Don’t forget expired credit and payment cards. Most shredders can cut plastic cards as well as paper documents.
What you shouldn’t shred
Many of us need to keep documents that contain personal information such as insurance policies, outstanding bills and birth certificates. These documents should be kept in a secure cabinet if possible or at least stored in a place which isn’t immediately obvious to an intruder.
Choosing the best shredder for you
When choosing your shredder there are a few things to consider including the number of people who will be using the machine, how many documents will each person typically shred and what level of security is required.
Obviously the more people that will use the shredder the more robust the machine needs to be. But, for one to three users, a personal or desk side model will be sufficient whereas small businesses and shared workplaces will need a commercial grade model.
Types of shredder
The different types of machine are defined by how many strips they cut a sheet of paper into. The more sensitive the information the more strips required. The different cuts available are:
Strip cut – The most popular type of personal shredder. Strip cut machines deliver a P1 Grade cut which cuts the paper into over 30 vertical strips of around 5.8mm. They are also available in a P2 Grade which provides a thinner cut of around 4mm and 55 strips.
These types of shredder are not recommended for sensitive information as determined criminals can actually piece strip cut documents back together using sophisticated software.
Cross cut – these P3 Grade machines cut the paper both horizontally and vertically cutting the material into hundreds of pieces. This makes it almost impossible for documents to be recovered by the average fraudster. These are the minimum grade machines which businesses should be using to dispose of their sensitive material.
Micro cut – similar to a cross cut machine but delivers a much finer cut which basically destroys the document by shredding it into thousands of tiny pieces.
Unsurprisingly these are the most secure of all shredders and are used by large commercial and public organisations to destroy highly confidential or sensitive material.