In recent times, the issue of identity fraud has often centred on the protection of digital documents, with a lot of media attention of cyber crime and email scams. However, businesses and individuals alike must not forget that the safe disposal of paper and other material documents is essential in the fight against ID fraud. Below are the primary ways available for disposing of your documents.
The first, and often the most convenient, way that people think of disposing of sensitive documents. Paper shredders render the document unreadable and can be bought from a number of different outlets and are a relatively cheap addition to the furniture if the office. You may also be able to pick one up secondhand (although be sure to check that the electrical system works before you purchase). Shredders will have a maximum capacity at which they can deal with documents and overfilling can cause the machine to burn out or break down. Shredding in this way, therefore, might not be the best option for those who generate a large number of sensitive documents. You can also engage the services of dedicated shredding companies. They will provide you with locked receptacles into which documents to be shredded are placed during the working week. An employee of the shredding company will then regularly empty the receptacle and take away the documents to be shredded off-site.
Types of shredder
Be aware that shredders come in different formats. The basic is a strip-cut shredder. This slices the paper vertically into spaghetti-like strips. A cross-cut shredder slices the document both vertically and horizontally, producing tiny squares. It is generally considered that a cross-cut shredder offers the best level of security in shredding.
Burning your documents will also render them unreadable. However, there is obviously a degree of hazard involved with this disposal method. For individuals, a garden fire or indoor fireplace can be sufficient, but a business will need to install a dedicated incineration unit, which must comply with health and safety regulations. This can be costly, but is effective at preventing ID fraud. However, such equipment will need to be monitored (increasing staff costs) not only for safety but to ensure all the documents are burned properly.
Individually cutting up documents into small pieces may not be practical for large businesses or individuals who generate a large amount of paperwork, but can be useful in certain situations. It is a useful method for disposing of documents such as cheques, tax returns and bank statements. Also, cut up expired bankcards.
A green alternative for disposing of sensitive documents is the compost them. The paper will need to be shredded or cut up first, to enable the microorganisms in the compost to act upon them and the break down of the paper can take some time. If adding shredded documents to compost, make sure the compost area is secure or intact documents could be retrieved from the compost. This method is probably not suitable for large amounts of paperwork.
Whichever method you choose, safe disposal of sensitive documents should be a priority for both individuals and businesses. If in doubt as to whether a document should be disposed of, to prevent identity fraud, do it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.