Keep Your In­for­ma­tion Safe

Keir Thomas ex­plores ways to get rid of per­sonal doc­u­ments for good.

The People's Friend - - Know How -

THE good news is that crimes such as bur­glary are de­clin­ing. The bad news is that fraud is fill­ing the gap. Credit card fraud alone rose 39% in 2016.

Crim­i­nals are known to “bin dive” – to search through dis­carded bin bags to find things like credit card state­ments in­no­cently thrown away by house­hold­ers.

Af­ter dis­cov­er­ing such de­tails, the world is their oys­ter. Spoil their day by mak­ing sure your per­sonal in­for­ma­tion is com­pletely de­stroyed be­fore you throw it away.


Pa­per shred­ders de­stroy doc­u­ments by cut­ting them into pieces. The first, most sim­ple type is the strip-cut shred­der that cuts pa­per into long, thin strips.

While broadly ef­fec­tive, the strips could fea­si­bly be re­assem­bled into a whole page – un­likely and dif­fi­cult, but it has been known to hap­pen.

Cross-cut shred­ders cut doc­u­ments into thin strips of just a few inches long, while mi­cro-cut shred­ders turn the pa­per into some­thing like con­fetti.

In both these in­stances re­assem­bly is next to im­pos­si­ble.

Any very in­ex­pen­sive shred­der will al­most cer­tainly be a strip-cut de­vice, and so is best avoided, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing a su­pe­rior cross-cut model like the CCS-211P made by Tesco costs just £18.95 (see

An­tic­i­pate pay­ing only a lit­tle more for a mi­cro-cut model, such as the Bon­saii Doc­shred C560-D, which costs £27.99 (see

Ad­vanced fea­tures

Pay­ing more for an ad­vanced model is well worth it.

Such mod­els let you feed in many sheets in one go, which can save a huge amount of time.

All shred­ders will shut down af­ter just a few min­utes be­cause they over­heat. This shut­down can last up to

40 min­utes.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, mod­els that can keep shred­ding for longer sell at a pre­mium, as do those that come back to life more quickly.

The Bon­saii Ever­shred C169-B (http://amzn. to/2lv9ikl) will shred 14 sheets at a time and run for 30 min­utes be­fore over­heat­ing – but it also costs £99.99.

Shred­ders like this can also de­stroy old credit cards or com­puter data CD/DVDS, and fea­ture larger waste col­lec­tors, too.

Shred­ding pa­per cre­ates a lot of dust so one that re­quires fewer trips to the bin is very de­sir­able.

Note that most coun­cils will not ac­cept shred­ded pa­per for re­cy­cling. You can com­post it, how­ever, or use it for rab­bit bed­ding!

Low-tech meth­ods

Throw­ing doc­u­ments into a gar­den bon­fire is ef­fec­tive – and free! Ball up each sheet to avoid it (or a scrap of it) float­ing away on the ther­mals.

An­other ef­fec­tive low-cost op­tion is to fill a bucket or wa­ter-tight bin with a 50/50 mix of wa­ter and thin bleach, then soak the doc­u­ments overnight.

The drained, dis­in­te­grated pulp can be then put in black bags and dropped in your non-re­cy­cling waste bin. n

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