Every individual and business will eventually need to shred information. In some cases, it is required by law for the information to be shredded. For example, there might be a contract in which it is required for all documents to be shredded after they have been used or after a designated period. However, it is also highly important to shred any documents that contain personal information because documents that are left in a dumpster are legally accessible to anyone else who finds it.
When someone does have access to secret information, identity theft becomes very easy. Identity theft is used for a variety of criminal purposes. For example, an individual who is not able to drive might use the fake driver's license of another individual. Then, if that person is pulled over for a traffic infraction, the individual with the actual identity may find himself or herself with court summons, tickets and suspended licenses. Also, if an individual applies for a job and undergoes a background check, the individual might discover that he or she has a criminal background that he or she was not aware of.
The most common consequence, however, of being a victim of identity theft is the financial theft so common. Many will use stolen identities to obtain credit cards, loans and goods and services. After they use the credit, the true owner of the identity discovers that he or she suddenly has very expensive credit card bills.
One of the most common ways that identity theft occurs is by rummaging through personal information thrown into the garbage. When placing personal documents in the garbage, the individual never knows if someone will later open the garbage bag. Also, even if the documents safely reach the landfill, shredding documents provides the peace-of-mind knowing that one's financial information is safe.
Recycling will not safely lead to the destruction of the document because the recyclers have no responsibility for protecting the information found on the documents they recycle. Therefore, if an unscrupulous individual working at the recycling facility takes the document, it can still be used to commit identity theft.
For those who have large volumes of documents to shred, the easiest approach is to utilize a document shredding service. The things that should be shredded include documents containing contact information, credit reports, canceled and voided checks, address labels, bank statements, documents with one's maiden name, documents containing investment information, driver's licenses, identification cards, pay stubs, luggage tags, papers with social security numbers and credit card applications.
Many individuals decide to hire garbage disposal services when they would like to declutter their homes. But before doing so, it is important to look through the clutter to make sure that there is nothing with financial information on it. Whenever possible, financial documents should be kept in a locked file cabinet. Also, it is important to get in the habit of always having anything with personal information destroyed. One common mistake is to receive a package and simply toss the box in the garbage. However, the address label is typically blatantly visible and should be peeled off of the package and shredded. If this cannot be done, the personal information should be marked over with a marker.
When something is shredded, it is chopped into small pieces. This is done using a machine that cuts the paper in such a way that it cannot be reassembled. If there is no shredder available, scissors might serve as a substitute. However, some individuals may be able to reassemble documents that were destroyed with a pair of scissors unless the document is chopped up very finely.