Why buy a paper shredder?
According to the Federal Trade Association (FTA), an estimated 9 million Americans have their identities stolen every year. With the holidays around the corner, it's more important than ever to protect your personal and financial information. Identity thieves still rely on the most common and cheapest way to steal your information - digging through your trash and grabbing papers such as old credit card statements, expired credit cards, bills, check stubs, pay stubs, and even something as innocuous as a birthday card. Even with today's threat of fraud happening at an alarming rate, many people still throw away their old documents without thinking twice.
Credit card offers increase dramatically around the holidays, as these institutions hope to gain more profit by tempting people with preapproved credit limits. Such applications are rampant at this time, and thieves know this. If your identity and information gets stolen, the thief can use it to make an exorbitant amount of orders online, and have them shipped to their address instead of theirs.
Take the proper steps to protect yourself, your identity and your finances - not just around the holidays, but all year around. What is the easiest way to do so? Simply invest in a quality paper shredder. Not enough consumers do the proper research to find the best paper shredder for their needs. While it's common for businesses and corporations to use shredders, every home should have one. A small investment now will pay off in huge dividends when you realize you've cut the easiest rope thieves can climb to find out who you are.
First, you'll need to determine what a thief would need to steal your identity. Here's a condensed list:
• Your name
• Mailing/billing address
• Date of birth
• Mother's maiden name
• Social security number
• Account numbers (bank, credit card, etc)
• PIN numbers and passwords
As you may have guessed, your social security number is target number one - the skeleton key to your identity and who you are on paper. You'll want to make absolutely sure any document that reveals your social security number, even partly, is completely destroyed.
How do you find the best shredder for the highest security possible?
Paper shredders come in three shred types - strip-cut, cross-cut and micro-cut. Strip-cut shredders do just that - they cut paper into strips, and are the most commonly found because of their economic value. However, leaving your documents in even sized strips are not enough. A patient thief will simply put the pieces together and use it to find your account numbers, or use the "junk mail" for yet another preapproved credit card offer to get one made and sent directly to their door. You'll want something much more intricate. Cross-cut shredders cut your documents into crisscross, diagonal pieces, and make it impossible to piece back together. Micro-cut shredders cut the pieces even smaller and are most often used for highly sensitive data in hospitals and government offices. A cross-cut or micro-cut shredder is the best choice for anyone to use at home.
There are shredders that allow you to shred multiple papers at once, and even with blades that can safely cut credit cards and CDs. Investing in a shredder that does all three is ideal, since it'll effortlessly cover old statements, old, expired credit cards, or CDs that might have incriminating information. Very few, if any thieves will spend the time it'd take to put together several hundred pieces of a document when they could just move on to an easier target. Make life difficult for them, and ensure the padlock is on yours.
Profect against identity theft with a paper shredder while doing your 2012 taxes
It’s almost time to file your taxes! In the United States, tax return season runs from January 1 – April 15 in 2013. Be prepared and protect your identity during this crucial time by shredding sensitive documents while filing your tax returns. Even if you believe your past paperwork is too old, outdated or insignificant, any personal information that ties back to your identity can be used by thieves. W2 forms, specific tax related forms such as 1040 or 1040A, and any other receipts, statements, and invoices have your personal information and should be eliminated after filing.
Your name, address, social security number and income numbers are plainly displayed and should only be viewed by authorized personnel, such as the IRS. Identity thieves know that this is a prime time to collect your information and up their efforts to rummage trash for old forms, receipts and invoices. This is the best time to shred all of your financial or personal information and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.
You were probably saving your pay stubs, receipts and statements all year in preparation for your taxes. While you’re collecting the previous year’s paperwork, why not use the time to shred older papers and documents you may have stored away? You will likely bring up your storage of old documents, statements, invoices and forms from past filing seasons.
There are many benefits to shredding your old documents while doing your taxes:
The IRS suggests keeping documents that support your tax returns for at least three years in the event of an unexpected audit. However, if you’re absolutely sure the threat of an audit has passed, or you’re confident that you’ve done your taxes accurately and reported all income, keep a copy of that year’s tax return and shred everything you used to reference the return.
ATM receipts, credit card statements, business invoices, write-offs, paycheck stubs, bank statements, investment records, insurance policies and big purchase warranties can all be safely shredded after you no longer need the information for that year’s filing.
These days, you do not need paper versions of your receipts and forms. The IRS accepts electronic versions, so scan what you need and keep them safe in a USB flash drive or another secure virtual storage box. Banks offer online statements, and you can download applications directly from the IRS’ website if necessary.
In the event your house is destroyed, having digital backups become invaluable, and when kept off-site (such as with a trusted party out of state or in a safety deposit box) you have little fear of your information being intercepted or simply picked apart with a paper trail.
Documents that do require a paper version include birth, death and marriage certificates, documents related to home ownership, wills, powers of attorney, business agreements, and divorce or child care orders, to name a few. Do not make additional paper copies – however, if you do, make sure the copies are shredded as soon as you don’t need them. Tax season is a good time to look over what can be safely disposed.
Ensure your personal and financial information’s security and use a high quality micro-cut or cross-cut shredder right after filing your taxes. Micro-cut and cross-cut shredders cut paper into multiple pieces, rendering it impossible for a thief to re-assemble. Keep one at home and well-maintained for years of security and protection from identity theft. Unclutter your space, save time and gain peace of mind this tax season with a smart investment on a quality paper shredder.
Paper shredders offer a specific level of security. There are six different levels that provide a specific amount of security. Some levels offer a lot of security, while others offer only the minimal security. Making sure you have the level that best suits your needs is important for protecting yourself and your business.
Strip-cut shredders are the least secure and range from level 1 to level 3. The level 1 strip-cut shredders will make strips of paper that are 12 mm by 40 mm. This is ideal for people that do not have a lot of confidential documents and do not need a lot of protection. The level 2 strips are 6 mm by 40 mm and the level 3 are 2 mm by 40 mm. Although they are more secure then level 1, they are still not ideal for deeply sensitive material.
Cross-cut shredders are a great alternative for extra security protection. They all come in security level four. The shredder cuts the paper into shreds of paper that are 2 mm by 15 mm. It is ideal for confidential documents and sensitive material. Bills, employment documents, medical information and private correspondences should be shredded with a minimum of a level 4 security level shredder.
Finally, micro-cut shredders provide the best security and protection. They come in two different security levels, 5 and 6. The level 5 shredders cut shreds that are .8 mm by 12 mm and the level 6 are .8 mm by 4 mm. This type of shredder is ideal for banking documents and other documents that contain private information such as social security numbers, banking information and license information.
Using the correct paper shredder for you needs will not only guarantee your protection, but will also give you the piece of mind that your information is not going to end up in the wrong hands.