According to a recent report, 15.4 million people in the U.S. had their identities stolen in 2016, amounting to $16 billion in damages. Investing in the best paper shredder can help you and your customers avoid identity theft in the future.
Who Should Consider a Paper Shredder?
Anybody who wants to protect their own identity and finances should consider purchasing a paper shredder.
More importantly, anybody who has the personal information of other people should purchase a shredder. Examples include doctors, lawyers, accountants, and other professionals who regularly deal with others' financial information or social security numbers.
Generally, if you have copies of customers' driver's licenses, insurance cards, billing information, banking records, or similar items, a paper shredder is a necessity.
Are There Differences Between Shredder Styles?
Currently, there are 6 levels of shredder on the market. The lower the number, the less secure the shredding will be.
For bulk shredding, such as recycling plants or people who simply have a lot of unimportant papers to get rid of, a Level 1 shredder will suffice. These can be used for newspapers, magazines, junk mail, and other similar items.
For home offices and even medical offices, the best paper shredder is at least a Level 3. This Level meets HIPAA and FACTA standards, which are required for doctors.
As each shredder goes up in Level, the paper shreds get smaller in size. This is what adds greater security to document destruction.
The highest Level is 6, and this is required for classified government documents. While it may seem attractive to have this level of security at your disposal, the shredders themselves are limited in the number of sheets they can handle at once. They also can't handle staples or paper clips, as other shredders can.
6 Types of Documents That Require Shredding
Finding the best paper shredder will depend a lot on how you'll be using it. First, you have to figure out what type of documents you have that require shredding.
Here we've identified the top documents in your home and business that you should shred.
1. Credit Card Information
By 2018, it's expected that "card not present" (CNP) fraud result in $6.4 billion in stolen credit card transactions.
CNP has been rising as credit cards themselves have become more secure with the addition of chip cards. This has led thieves to ramp up their purchasing habits online and over the phone, where a physical card isn't needed.
For this reason, it's vital to protect credit card information by shredding any documents that contain credit card numbers.
2. Tax Returns
For accountants and the general public alike, it's recommended to properly dispose of old tax returns.
While you may want to hold on to the past 2-3 years' worth - especially if you'll be applying for a mortgage or other major financing soon - there's usually no need to hang on to anything older than that.
However, you can't just throw away this type of paperwork. Tax returns have your social security number, legal name, address, employment information, etc. This is all valuable information for identity thieves.
3. Photo Identification
Many businesses require photo identification and will hold copies in customer files.
While this is standard practice, every so often you should consider clearing out inactive accounts.
This will cut down on space in your filing cabinets, and improve security for past customers.
4. Financial Information
If you find your pockets full of old ATM or bank receipts, it's time to pull out the shredder.
While it's tempting to just throw out these slips along with the receipts from recent purchases, it's best to err on the side of caution.
Bank receipts often have a portion of your account number, in addition to your name and the local branch of your bank. This brings thieves one step closer to figuring out and hacking your accounts.
5. Legal Documents
One common way for scammers to commit fraud is by coming across as an authority figure.
If they become aware of a legal situation you're involved with, they may call on the phone pretending to be a government figure (like the IRS), or even a lawyer who claims they can help defend you.
If you've been involved in any lawsuits or other legal situations, destroy all necessary paperwork securely with the best paper shredder.
And if you do get any suspicious phone calls, remember that entities like the IRS and other figures will not call you. It would be up to you to call them if there were any issues.
6. Investment and Property Information
Similar to banking and legal documents, you don't want strangers to have any information related to your assets.
You've spent years saving for retirement, and even your home is part of your nest egg. Protect them by shredding any documents with identifying personal information related to your investments.
What is the Best Paper Shredder for Your Application?
Once you've identified what types of paperwork you have that requires shredding, think about how big of a job that will be.
The best paper shredder for your accountant may not be the best paper shredder for you and vice versa.
If you simply have a lot of paper goods lying around (parents may notice piles of old homework and tests taking up space), a Level 1 or Level 2 shredder will handle the bulk quite well.
If you run a business or have a lot of sensitive items like those mentioned above, the best paper shredder will be a Level 3 or above.
And as previously stated, a Level 6 is the highest level of security and is used to destroy top secret, classified information. Remember that there is the drawback of smaller runs and having to remove any staples before using the equipment.
For this reason, having the highest level of security doesn't necessarily mean that you'll have the best paper shredder for your personal use. It's all about weighing the pros and cons of each option and determining which will fit your needs.
Buying Your Shredder
After you've assessed your personal situation and figured out what type of shredder will work, it's time to make your purchase!
If you have any questions about a particular model or need some more help choosing the right one, we're here to answer any questions.
Contact us for more information about choosing and buying your paper shredder.