Now’s a good time to go through that ever-growing stack of old bank statements and shred them.
The Federal Trade Commission warns that identity theft if the fastest growing crime in the United States, and those old documents — along with the tons of credit card offers that arrive in the mail regularly — could cause you big trouble if you don’t thoroughly destroy them properly.
To shred safely, follow these tips:
Buy a shredder than “cross shreds:” that is, it shreds each scrap in two directions which makes it unlikely the document can be taped back together.
Choose a model with enough capacity for your needs. Some cut multiple sheets of paper at once; others can destroy credit cards and even CDs. Most people need a basic, single-sheet shredder.
Keep kids away from your shredder. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has received reports of children injuring or even amputating their fingers in the devices. Unplug your shredder after each use, and store it out of the reach of small children.
Remove paper clips and staples from your documents before running them through the shredder. Metal probably won’t break your shredder but it can dull the cutting blades, making it less effective and reducing its lifespan.