One of the most important tools you can buy to help you prevent identity theft is a cross cut paper shredder. A cross cut paper shredder does exactly what it says it does – cross cuts paper. Cross cutting means the shredder cuts vertically and horizontally to turn a regular sheet of paper into a hundred pieces of confetti-like bits. Traditional paper shredders, which cut only vertically, result in long strands that are easier to put back together. While a traditional shredder is better than ripping it up, a cross cut paper shredder is much better because it’s a lot harder to put the tiny pieces together.
The more expensive units will shred the paper into much smaller pieces and are generally more durable. I’ve seen commercial cross cut shredders that turn phone books into a fine grey mist of paper (OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but it’s not far off). In general, I think it’s important to spend a little more to get a durable model. Given how much junk mail we get each year, it’s nice to have a shredder that can stand the test of time.
Finally, when you do buy a cross cut shredder, be sure to pick up a small jar of shredder oil and lubricant so you can keep it running in tip top shape.