Using paper shredders is a good practice and a good habit to get into. It is no secret that paper shredders are great for destroying sensitive information and protecting one’s identity. That being said, some paper shredders do a better job of shredding paper than others. The biggest difference is the size of the shredded paper after the process is done.
While answering a few questions in Yahoo! Answers the other day, I came across someone asking the question, “Is it OK if I use scissors to cut up credit card applications?” I almost let out a gasp of disbelief. I then went on to post my own answer to the question. It went something like this.
Cutting up a credit card application, or other paper material, with scissors is certainly better than nothing, but will not give you adequate protection from identity theft. Paper cut with scissors is relatively easy to put back together if one has the time. Most criminals won’t bother, but some will.
There are actual documented cases of credit card applications being taped back together, filled out, sent in and accepted! To put it in simple terms, tearing or cutting up sensitive information does not work.
I then went on to explain proper document destruction. Documents that contain any information you don’t want others to see should be shredded, using an electric powered paper shredder. Not only should you use a paper shredder, but it should also be a cross cut shredder (also known as confetti cut or particle cut shredders).
Strip cut paper shredders just don’t cut it (excuse the pun). Strip cut shredders cut paper into ¼ and sometimes 1/8-inch strips of paper. These strips, although much more difficult than scissor-cut paper, can be re-assembled. Iranian basket weavers proved this after the U.S. embassy was overrun in the 1970s. Secure government documents were re-assembled and ended up being very legible. You can actually read some of these re-assembled documents on Wikipedia.
In a nutshell,
are the only way to go. The blades in the shredder head cut the paper in two different directions, both horizontal and vertical. There is still a wide variety of different cross cut shredders based on the size of the particle. This is usually referred to as the security level of a paper shredder.
I recommend going with a security level of three or higher. Levels five and six are for high security shredding and are usually unnecessary for home or office use. Be aware that the smaller the particle, the fewer sheets that can be shred at any given time due to stress put on the blades and motor.
Paper shredders should be used on a regular basis, whether at home or in the office. Contact Office Zone for more information on paper shredders.