4 Easy Tips for Paper Shredding at Home.

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Many of our customers at Shredding Houston use our service to come pick up their shredding as needed, so they don’t have to worry. Shredding at home can be a time consuming job, especially if you have a consumer grade shredder. It takes time to shred, and even more time to shred properly. Likewise, if you aren’t using a cross-cutting shredder, you aren’t destroying your personal papers securely. This is why so many people find Shredding Houston’s pickup service to be a faster, easier way to the piece of mind that comes when you know your documents are being shredded securely, and you are doing your best to protect you and your family against identity theft. paper-recycling.jpg However, from time to time, our customers have important papers they want to shred right away. For these instances, here are five great tips for secure paper shredding at home: 1. What types of documents you need to shred. It can be a little overwhelming to try and figure out just what needs to be shredded. The general rule of thumb is to destroy anything that contains personal information. This includes anything that is printed with your full name, address, social security number, birthday, credit card number, or email address should be destroyed. Also, you should always shred credit card offers, especially any that are pre-approved. Credit card offers tossed into the trash are one of the most common ways thieves commit fraud. 2. Don’t forget about personal correspondence. This is a big one. Many people don’t realize that any information an identity thief can gather about you from your trash can present a risk. If you are throwing away personal correspondence such as birthday cards, letters, or postcards, be sure to shred these first. Any details about the routines or personal habits of you, your friends, or family can help a thief steal your identity and commit fraud. Be safe, not sorry. 3. How to pick the right home shredder. When choosing a shredder, ask yourself two things: How much do I want to spend? How much shredding will I be doing at home? Ideally, you want to purchase a cross-cut shredder for at home shredding jobs. Cross-cut shredders cut your papers vertically and horizontally, offering you greater security. However, if you want to use a less-expensive model, you can go with a strip-cut shredder. These will cut your documents into strips, but are less secure, since a thief could piece documents back together if they are found in strips. If you use a strip cut shredder, buy one that cuts paper into very small strips, to make it more difficult for someone to recreate the original document. Likewise, you want to get a shredder than can handle your job. If you plan on shredding a few highly sensitive documents here and there, a smaller shredder should suffice. However, if you want to shred a larger volume of papers at home, you will need to invest in a larger, more expensive shredder that can handle more papers at once. If you don’t, it will take you much longer than you bargained for to shred your job. 4. Remove staples and paper clips before you shred! A lot of people forget to do this and find themselves sorry when their shredder jams or worse, breaks. Many of the newer, more expensive shredders will survive if you feed them staples and clips, but it’s better to remove them just to be safe. We hope these tips on home paper shredding are useful. For larger jobs in the Houston area, contact Shredding Houston and schedule an appointment for a representative to pickup your personal shredding at your home.

A Scary Story About Document Destruction

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Don’t think you need to shred?

Read this story from one of our customers.

My mother was used to throwing our trash away in the trash cans outside our house, which then got tossed into the ubiquitous garbage dumpster on Monday morning when the trash man came. No one ever thought someone would actually go through the trash cans. It was a nice neighborhood. We weren’t throwing away anything special. And after all, why would she need to destroy anything before throwing it away? We had nothing to hide.

Okay, so maybe you were thinking about shredding your junk mail in 1996, but we weren’t. For it’s worth, I wasn’t even of legal drinking age at the time. Nor was I responsible for taking out the trash. But that’s not the point. The point is that someone went through our trash sometime in the summer of 1996, and wreaked havoc on my family’s credit and good name, not to mention finances.

Yes, it turns out whoever went through our trash was able to piece together enough information about our family to apply for a mortage, have their apartment heated and well-lit, get cable and internet, and go on quite the shopping sprees at both Macy’s and Nordstrom’s. This went on for a year. We didn’t find out until the fall of 1997 when a bill collector called. I answered the phone.

shredding.jpgMe: “Hello, Miller residence.”

Caller: “Yes, we’re looking to speak with Joanna Miller please regarding an important business matter.”

Me: “Sure, may I ask who’s calling please?”

Caller: “CR Solutions.”

Me: “Um, may I ask what this is regarding?”

Caller: “We need to speak with Joanna Miller please, is she available?”

My mother always told me to get a name and reason for the call before passing along any calls to her or anyone in the family, but it was clear this guy wasn’t going to budge. It sounded suspicious and I had a bad feeling in my stomach when I ran upstairs to let my mom know someone was on the line. When my mom came down to take the call, she seemed confused, and a tad bit concerned. The look on her face said “Who could this be?” as she picked up the receiver, and I sat there in the kitchen the entire time, curious to find out just who in the world this suspicious man was and why he was calling for my mother.

Mom: “A Macy’s card? Good lord, what?? I don’t have a Macy’s card. You must have the wrong number.”

Caller: “No, ma’am, we have the right number. And you now owe $2000.00 plus $686.00 in late fees and charges, due immediately.”

Mom: “There’s no way. I don’t have a Macy’s account. Who did you say is calling?”

According to my mom, the mysterious man on the other end of the line then confirmed her social security number, home address, prior address, and maiden name. I watched my mom’s face turn white and she hung up the phone with a dazed look of confusion on her face.

Needless to say, my family’s identity had been stolen. The thieves had managed to gather my mother and father’s social security numbers, along with our address and other key pieces of information about our family from our trash. And we never had a clue until the day we received the call from the collection agency.

My parents wised up, after a little investigation, a review of their credit report, a couple hundred hours, an attorney, and several thousand dollars. The thieves were eventually caught. My parents started using a shredder to destroy anything that contained personally identifiable information before throwing away.

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. Don’t become a victim. Check your credit report regularly, be careful with whom you share social security and account numbers, and shred ANY documents that contain personal info before tossing them into the trash. If you live in the Houston area, check out Shredding Houston, a Houston-based recycling service that comes to your residence or business and picks up your shredding, at your convenience, and destroys it securely. Find out how Shredding Houston can help protect your identity and good name by taking care of your shredding.

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