Shred first, then recycle the paper

10:12 am Houston, Paper Shredding


Identity theft can happen in a variety of different ways and those ways are constantly evolving as technology and our world develop and change. It’s tough to keep up with all the things you’re “supposed” to do to keep someone from stealing your identity. But covering the basics is a good place to start.


One basic piece of advice all identity theft experts agree on is to buy a paper shredder and use it. Many documents come into homes each day containing personal information that an identity thief can use to steal your identity. Bank statements, credit card statements, and information from the Social Security Administration are just a few examples of documents containing personal information that need to be shredded.


Jane is an example of a woman who discovered the importance of shredding the hard way. Jane felt as though the risk of having documents stolen from her was slim. She lived in a suburban neighborhood where crime wasn’t a big issue. Her husband had bought a shredder and the two of them had agreed to use it on a regular basis. Jane worked part time and when she got home, she juggled her two kids and their afternoon activities. Often, she picked the mail up on her way into or out of the driveway in her car on the way to an activity. She would then deposit any of the “junk” mail in the paper recycling bin on her way into the house. The paper recycling would go out to the curb on the appointed day. Jane would shred the documents that came to them that she felt were important – statements from the bank, bills with credit card information on them, even documents that weren’t sensitive went into the document shredder. But Jane didn’t shred the junk mail.


It took Jane and her husband several months to realize that this practice was what had led to someone opening a credit card account in her name. She had recycled a “pre-authorized” credit card offer without shredding the documents first. Someone had stolen that credit card offer and had capitalized on it – at Jane’s expense. Straightening out the issue with her credit card company and erasing the incident from her credit report were time consuming and stressful for Jane and her family. This incident left her more aware of the potential dangers of being careless and not using a paper shredder.


Paper shredding is an important part of keeping your identity safe. Document shredders are a necessary part of every household now and they should be used on a daily or weekly basis. A great deal of time has been spent in the press discussing how identity can be stolen in cyberspace but the fact is that the easiest way for someone to steal your identity is to find a document with your personal information on it in your trash or recycling. Paper shredding can prevent this from happening. Keep up your recycling efforts after the paper shredding has taken place. An extra precaution can be taken by placing shredded paper in different recycling bins or separate bags to make it more difficult for someone to reconstruct a shredded document.

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