2015-10-30 / Community

Shred and recycle sensitive documents

Time for fall cleaning, which means going through your accumulated receipts, credit-card bills, account notifications, old medical documents and numerous other papers. All that paper is recyclable but it contains personal information that puts you at risk for identity theft.

What can you do to safely eliminate all of this accumulated paperwork? You have several options to choose from, depending on how much risk you are comfortable with. Your first option is to put documents in the regular trash. It goes out of the house and to the curb, where the trash truck hauls it away, and with a little luck it, becomes fuel for the ecomaine facility. Warning: when it goes to the curb it becomes fair game to whomever wants to investigate what’s in the bag – identity theft with minimal effort.

Your next option is to invest in a paper shredder for your home. Shredded paper can then be placed in the blue recycling bin. Home paper shredders range in price from $30 to well over $200, which for some is good investment. Paper shredders come in many models with many features. The lower price range models usually shred four to six pages at a time in what’s called a “strip-cut.” Strips are usually ¼ of an inch wide and page length; not too hard to put back together. Next you have the “cross-cut” which is used by the majority of residential owners. These units will shred four to 10 pages at a time with ¼ of an inch of width and 1-inch of length. This size would present an enormous amount of work for an identity thief, much safer for you. There is a third type, the “micro-cut,” which shreds paper to ¼ of an inch of width and ½ of length. They say that nothing is perfect, but this is as close as you can get with a residential shredder.

For those who don’t want to deal with shredding at home,º you can use a professional shredding service. There are several companies that will do this for individuals, however, it can be an expensive option. Periodically banks, community groups or nonprofits will hold events for their customers, members and residents to get free professional shredding.

This Saturday, Oct. 31 from 9 a.m. to noon, The South Portland Public Library will conduct a shredding event in the Main Library parking lot. The event is sponsored by Bath Savings Institution and is free for all South Portland residents.

Protect your identity and the environment by recycling your sensitive documents at this great event.

The South Portland Energy and Recycling Committee meets the third Wednesday of each month at the South Portland Community Center. Meetings start at 6:30 p.m. and are open to the public.

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