In the past while working in law enforcement, I have had to recover information that had been shredded. Fortunately, in this case they had used an inexpensive shredder It merely cut the documents in long strips. By removing it carefully from the bin, the pages came out with the strips mostly side by side. The information was fairly easy to reconstruct.
If you already own a shredder that cuts in straight strips, mix the shredded paper up by hand before you throw it away. This will make it harder to reconstruct.
The best type of shedder to buy is a crosscut shredder, which slices papers horizontally and vertically and turns your documents into small pieces, the smaller the better. These are much more difficult to reassemble, but not impossible. Don’t forget to mix up the pieces, it makes the puzzle harder.
I use a shredder for any documents that I discard, if something is of real importance, don’t just shred it burn it. The crosscut shredders will foil most criminals and identity thieves, but not a good determined, government or private investigator, it just buys time.
Shred Documents Containing Personal Information
Your personal information is what identity thieves are after. Your date-of-birth and Social Security Number are especially vulnerable so make sure anything that has those numbers on them goes through the shredder. Other information to be wary of: your full name and address, home or work telephone numbers, or driver’s license number.
Shred Documents Containing Account Information
Account numbers, user names, and passwords are key information that identity thieves try to capture. Shred any documents that have this information printed on them.
Shred Junk Mail
Junk mail can be dangerous. Most people don’t realize it, but junk mail usually has a computer bar code on the front that can sometimes contain personally identifying information. Shred all of your junk mail, including the return envelopes provided with it.
Always be careful with what you throw away. Your trash reveals your life in great detail.