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Shoes Are Nice but a Shredder is Better

November 16, 2007 4:57 PM

Forget the fancy shoes and the handbag you’ve been eyeing. If you buy yourself one gift this holiday season, make it a shredder.

Yup, you read it right. A shredder.

Last year eight million people were victims of identity fraud in this country. It’s almost impossible to be among a group of friends or strangers these days where at least one person hasn’t had his or her identity stolen. In fact, every second, two more people become victims of identity theft, web threats or data loss.

I was one of them. My wallet was stolen and a clever crook opened more than a dozen new accounts in my name within 48 hours. A month later I began receiving statements from stores I’d never stepped foot in welcoming me and thanking me for my purchases. I spent endless hours sending in police reports and affidavits of fraud – assuring them these charges weren’t mine. It took many months for the mess to be cleared from my credit report, yet the chilling impact remains on my mind.

Assess Your Risk
On its website, Staples offers a 10-question quiz to measure your security risk. Click here and take two minutes to take the test. You may be surprised by what your answers about daily habits reveal.

Homemade Confetti
Since many security breaches occur close to home and work with thieves rummaging through trash, I no longer casually dump mail with account numbers or other personal data.

At home I take caution when disposing of those unsolicited credit cards that arrive pre-printed with my name. At the office we’re careful of how to throw out paper resumes when it’s time to get rid of them.

The Staples MailMate 3 Shredder is one of my favorite new office supplies. I’m going to buy one for home too. It’s small, yet powerful. Not only will it convert our paper and unwanted mail into colorful confetti, it also shreds CDs and credit cards. Even with space at a premium, the compact size is perfect.

Share Your Experiences

Most people think it’ll never happen to them. They’re sure that “those crazy things” only happen once in a blue moon to people who expose themselves carelessly. We want your help to dispel that myth. Ever been a victim of identity fraud? Share your tales of woe to others will take precautions to avoid a similar fate.

Comments (12)

Home shredders are very helpful as well as cheap there are usually old documents and records related to banking and saving sheets.

The multifacet use of shredder which has Convenient - feature Auto On/Off and reverse function to clear overloads. Secure - Choose from straight-cut or higher security / bulk reducing cross-cut models.

After spending eight months proving that charges under my name weren't made by me, I'd gladly spend 80 bucks on a shredder if it'd help prevent this mess. We spend that on lousy dinners, shoes we never wear, ugly tops and assorted other garbage. This can actually have lasting impact. Good advice.

I've become paranoid these past few years and have bought a cross cut shredder to make it that much harder for thieves to piece together my info (a former roommates dad worked for the FBI and gave us tips).
Something to keep in mind about identity theft: 8 out of 10 ID thefts go unsolved. Why? Because they're pretending to be you! Think about it and protect your information.

Great advice Tory. A shredder is definitely on my holiday gift purchase to me list. My debit card number was stolen and it was a nightmare. I currently have monthly credit monitoring as well. This extra safety precaution can make a world of difference. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information on the value of having a shredder.

Excellent advice, Tory!
I suggest purchasing a shredder not only for your home office, but for college kids and elder parents as well. To make that home confetti, make sure the shredder is a "cross-cut" shredder - impossible to reconstruct a document or portions. I have several small shredders next to various desks through-out the house. I was the victim of identity theft in the early 80s! A store clerk took the carbon paper out of the waste-basket from a manual store charge. Those were the days long before the digital era.
In response to one of the previously posted comments - NEVER carry your original social security card and don't even give out the number unless you absolutely have to. For added security on the back of my credit cards instead of signing my name I've written, MUST ASK FOR ID.

Walking down 50th street I had my purse stolen, and inside was not only every single credit card I owned, but my drivers license and social security card as well. Needless to say, the thief had absolutely every piece of identification he could possibly need to access any of my personal information. I got lucky, and he never did anything with it, but take a lesson from me, and be very careful about what you choose to carry and where!

Aside from anything, this shredder looks awesome! I think I'm going to get it before this stuff happens to me.

Much love to the shredder! I bought one of these a few years ago. The best $100 investment any company can make.

Holly-my friend had her wallet stolen on the subway as well and the person bought 900 dollars of merchandise at Old Navy. That's a lot of flag t-shirts!

I hear ya, Alexa!

A few years ago my wallet was lifted on the platform of the 72nd Street subway in NYC. A perfect day for pickpockets-pouring rain-everyone schmushed in the subway car carrying umbrellas and wearing raincoats. I thought I had everything covered after cancelling my credit cards until weeks later when I started receiving bills from PC Richard, JC Penney, The Home Depot, etc-$6600.00 worth of luxury items. It seems the crook used my drivers license to create a new identity. It took months to clear my name and credit!

OMG! This happened to my boyfriend and he never got a police report so the creditors didn't believe that the charges weren't made by him. Also a cell phone account was opened in his name. I don't know about you, but when I try to even ask a question about my cell service I get asked 50 Fort Knox-style questions. But when someone calls to open an account in someone else's name, they managed to get through. NO JUSTICE!

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