While documents have always been important in the history of humankind since the first use of stone tablets, sometimes they contain sensitive information that could cause tremendous problems if they got into the wrong hands. For instance, documents with information about your social security number, past addresses and phone numbers, credit card information, bank statements, and financial records could be used for identity theft.
If your sensitive personal information is stolen, the thief can use it to open up a credit card in your name and go on a shopping spree, leaving you to pay the bill. Worse still, your stolen identity can be used for conducting illegal activities like running a child porn ring, drug smuggling, or grand larceny. This might result in the police knocking on your door with a warrant to arrest you.
You may have kept many documents with sensitive personal information for many years because you wanted to safeguard your information. However, you now find yourself in a position where you want to get rid of obsolete documents and make more room in your file cabinets and in your home or office.
If this is your situation, you may be wondering how to get rid of these large stacks of documents.
Here are 7 ways to do it:
- Buy a paper shredder and use it. Paper shredders come in all sorts of price and quality ranges. The more effective the shredder, the more volume it can cut and the better it shreds, the higher the price.
- Hire a paper shredding service to do the work for you. These companies send their reps out to pick up all your documents, and they destroy and dispose of them for you. They guarantee your privacy and promise to act with discretion.
- If you have a home with a yard, you can burn your documents by digging a hole in the ground. If you choose this method, be sure to take precautionary fire measures as well as make sure that all the documents burn completely. If you have a lot of documents, then a bon-fire will work well. If you have a manageable stack, then use your barbecue grill. If you have a charcoal burning barbecue, then place the documents under the coals, sprinkle lighter fluid on the coals, and set the fire with a match or lighter. Finally, sift through the debris, see if any documents didn’t get burned completely and repeat the process.
- Look through your documents to determine the sensitive parts. If you want to keep the documents, but only remove the sensitive information, there are several things you could do. One is to use a heavy black marker to censor the document. A second is to use a one hole punch to remove the sensitive parts. A third is to use scissors to cut out the sensitive parts. And a fourth is to use a knife to remove the sensitive parts.
- Soak your documents in water. This will render them difficult to read and you can even tear them into chunks and put them in a bucket then turn a power hose on them to shred them into small pieces. The pieces will be glued together in a mess and can then be disposed of safely because they will be impossible to separate and read.
- You can mulch them into your garden. Using a wood chipper, you can thoroughly destroy your heaps of paper, mix them up with some yard waste, and create a mulch to use in your garden.
- You can take it to an office with an industrial strength paper shredder or if the office uses a paper shredding company to do its shredding, then simply get the keys to the lock-up bins and add your heaps of paper to the collection. The paper shredding company will not sift through the papers but destroy everything in the bins.
This is an extreme method, but you can use it if you have too many documents to destroy and don’t want to use any of the suggested methods. Go to an industrial cleaning store and buy one or two containers of muriatic acid, then stop by a hardware store and buy big plastic buckets, rubber gloves, and safety glasses. Do not use metal buckets or containers. Throw the paper in the buckets and pour the muriatic acid into it. You will end up with an unrecognizable goop and will have to get rid of it by taking it to a toxic waste disposal site.