The most obvious need for a shredder is to get rid of paperwork that can't fall into the wrong hands. Bank account numbers, applications that could sign you up for services, and secret documents that could ruin your business if a rival got them should be shredded as soon as possible, but is your shredder good enough? Here's a few ways that document compromises happen, along with ways to make destruction more certain.
Knowing Theft Methods Helps You Prevent Theft
To understand the destruction quality you really need, you need to understand how such information theft takes place and what could be done if the shredding from your basic office supply shredder isn't enough.
The most basic form of theft is reaching into the trash and piecing together information. With names, addresses, and social security numbers available, a thief can do a lot of damage. Even without a social security number, it's surprisingly easy--if a bit tedious--to get certain forms of theft to yield illegitimate theft.
From the Information Technology (IT) and Information Security (IS) industries, a lot of information on how to avoid phishing can help you understand what happens. Phishing is a slang word turned official, which describes pretending to be someone you're not in order to get information. It's no different than calling a bunch of businesses and seeing which employee or intern is weak enough to give something over.
With just your name and address, a thief can start building a story of who you are. Although all businesses should be performing background checks or asking basic questions, a thief could order certain items from less honest or careful companies and wait for delivery. They could steal the mail before it arrives, and then you're left with the bill and the work of having the charges removed.
Avoiding Violent Crime, Stalking, And Persistence
Theft isn't the only problem. In the military, many overseas servicemembers have to completely remove and shred their mail. Packages from home or ordered from the internet must have their labels ripped off and shredded, burned, or otherwise destroyed.
Why? Any terrorist/criminal group could go through the trash and figure out who gets a lot of mail. A freshly-promoted servicemember could go on shopping sprees and is unlikely to check their mail, so packages can be delivered to an office that isn't likely to be careful. An easy kill can be made with an exploding box.
While civilians in the US aren't likely targets of such extremism, there are still some likely stalking scenarios. An industry or political rival could be trying to piece together a plausible lie or trying to create a narrative based on your official mail or your family's personal interests. An infatuated stalker could try to figure out your likes, habits, and the places that could have more information about you if your mail isn't properly destroyed.
A simple shredder can make piecing together letters and labels more effort than most criminals want to commit. There are simply better targets out there, but if you're part of a business with big rivals or secrets that need to be stolen, the potential millions or billions is well worth making a career out of piecing together some paper.
The smaller and more erratic the shredding, the harder it is to steal information. Instead of dealing with the big, broad shreds of a basic shredder, speak with a shredding services professional from a company like Document Demolition LLC to discuss their shredding standards.