Find out how to shred personal documents securely to avoid identity theft
Given the amount of personal information we store online, it is easy to focus our attention on digital safety. Yet there are plenty of sensitive documents that arrive at our homes and offices that contain valuable personally identifiable information (PII). From bank and credit card statements to utility bills and tax forms, the amount of paper with personal details that accumulates can be staggering.
Some people may stress about those piles of papers, knowing that they need to be disposed of securely to prevent would-be identity thieves from gathering that PII. Yet they may not know how to dispose of those documents safely.
If you’re looking for how to shred your files safely, one option to consider is a local community shredding event. Here are four things you may want to know before you head to a shredding event near you.
Community shredding events usually involve industrial-sized shredders capable of slicing up paper documents in bulk. They are often installed in big trucks that can easily and securely transport a large amount of shredded material for recycling.
The exact rules will be unique to each event. Typically, you’ll be limited to four or five banker boxes of documents. Many of these events are offered for free, but others may charge a small fee per box.
If you have more boxes of documents than what is allowed, you may want to consider a local shredding company that can handle large orders.
Community shredding events can be held anywhere, but the giant trucks that carry the shredders need room, so they’re usually held outdoors in parking lots or large public spaces. It’s not uncommon to find one of these events at a community center, bank or credit union, school or another area that has a lot of space.
The hosts of community shredding service depend on the individual event. A town or city department may join forces with a company that specializes in industrial shredding — the company is able to help the community, while also getting some free advertising in the process. Other times, certain businesses, like credit unions or banks, might host the shredding event as a beneficial service to consumers and the community at large.
Because of the precautions and processes professional shredding companies have in place to ensure the secure disposal of personal documents, community shredding events are generally considered safe. In fact, at some shredding events, you can watch as they dump your documents into the giant shredder.
At the same time, you’ll want to keep your documents safe until they are processed. Be wary of events that allow your documents to be left unattended at any time. Don’t hand a box of your documents off to a friendly volunteer who then sets it down and walks away. Make sure your documents are secure before you leave the event — whether they are locked in a container or shredded in front of you.
Want to take advantage of a shredding event in your area? There isn’t one resource or directory for every event in the country, but by searching online for the name of your city or town with the words “shredding event,” you should be able to find what you’re looking for.