Part 2: Shredding More Than Paper
By Perry Solomon
Most offices and many households today understand the importance of shredding bank statements, credit card offers, tax returns and other sensitive documents. After all, meticulous attention to document destruction is vital given the troubling statistics on identify theft and fraud. In fact, the 2014 Identity Fraud Study released by Javelin Strategy & Research, a leading firm that tracks identity fraud trends, reports an increase of more than 500,000 fraud victims to 13.1 million people in 2013 from the previous year. Even more alarming is that crooks are increasingly using e-commerce sites such Amazon or eBay to make purchases with stolen information, and in 2013, one in three people in the United States received notification of a data breach.
Today’s identity thieves are sneaky. They’ll sift through your trash and even pay people to raid large trash bins in search of any scraps of paper containing information that can be used to access bank and other confidential accounts. If you think it’s only paper documents they’re after, think again. Fraudsters will hunt for anything that can reveal private information about you or your company. To better protect yourself from identity theft or financial fraud, consider shredding the following items as well:
1. Cancelled Credit or Debit Cards. A good desk-sized paper shredder crosscuts paper into small pieces (confetti) and should also include a separate slot for credit cards and debit cards. Using scissors to cut up credit cards and tossing them in the trash may leave you vulnerable if the numbers and your signature are decipherable.
2. CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray Discs. Storage mediums such as DVDs and CDs with confidential information should also be properly destroyed. It’s a common misconception that a scratched disk will be unreadable; however, it is possible to recover data from scratched or even a broken optical disc. Purchase a multimedia shredder that includes a separate feeding slot for Blu-rays, DVDs and CDs.
3. Photo IDs and Badges. Work and school IDs, expired drivers licenses, gym membership cards, expired passports, etc., are gold mines for thieves. These cards often have your name, photo, an address and a signature, which can be just enough information to do harm. Consider shredding old IDs and badges, just keep in mind that thicknesses of badges or IDs can vary, and some may have to be physically cut up into pieces.
4. Medical insurance cards. Medical and other insurance cards are often renewed yearly. Shred the old one instead of chucking them in the trash and if your shredder can’t handle it, cut it up with scissors.
Whether sensitive information is contained on an ID or credit card or stored on a DVD or CD, you can never be too careful. Tossing these items in the trash or leaving them sitting inside an unlocked desk drawer can have devastating consequences if the data ends up in the hands of a thief. A good rule of thumb is, “if it can be read, it’s best to shred,” so choose a shredder that handles more than just paper.