April 4, 2017

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Are Community Shredding Events Safe?

We’ve all been there: You invested in a small shredder for your home with the best of intentions. You told yourself you’d shred any sensitive documents that crossed your path every day to keep them away from identity thieves and just hang on to a few pieces—like pay stubs or receipts for big purchases—that you may want to keep for tax purposes.

Flash forward a few years, and suddenly, you realize your handy-dandy shredder has become a makeshift side table in your living room that’s collecting dust—and all those documents you meant to shred are all over your house in little piles. Okay…big piles.

Most people begin to stress about those piles around this time of year when they launch into spring cleaning mode. They want to get rid of all of their sensitive documents that are no longer needed, but they either don’t have a shredder or the one they do have isn’t high-capacity enough for the pages and pages of paper that need to go.

If you can relate, you may be thinking about attending one of the community shredding events in your local area. However, if you’ve never been to one before, it’s a good idea to understand how they work so you know what to expect

What are community shredding events?

During these events, there are usually enormous shredders capable of slicing up paper documents in bulk. The exact rules will be unique to each event, but generally, they aren’t free-for-alls. Typically, you’ll be limited to four or five banker boxes of documents; if you have more than that at home, you may want to reach out to a company who can handle large orders. Some events charge a small fee per box, while many others perform this service for free.

Where are community shredding events usually held?

Community shredding events can be held anywhere, but they’re usually held outdoors in parking lots or large public spaces. It’s not uncommon to find one of these events at a community center, beach, bank, school, or another area that has a lot of room, as these giant shredders are often in large trucks that can easily and securley transport a large amount of shredded material for recycling.

Who hosts community shredding events?

Again, it can depend on the individual event. Often, a town or city department will join forces with a company that specializes in industrial shredding—the company is able to help the community, while also getting some free advertising in the process. Other times, businesses, like credit unions or banks, might host the shredding event as a service to its members (and other people in the community who they hope become members).

Are community shredding events safe?

You’re making an effort to attend one of the shredding events because you want to properly dispose of sensitive documents and protect yourself from identity theft—but are they actually safe? It’s impossible to say if any situation is 100% safe when it comes to your identity, but typically, you should feel comfortable attending a community shredding event. The professional shredding companies providing their services have safeguards and processes in place to ensure that your personal documents never fall into the hands of a stranger. At some shredding events, you can even stand there and watch as they dump your documents into the giant shredder.

Just be wary if you attend an event that allows your documents to be left unattended at any time. For example, don’t hand a banker box of documents off to a friendly volunteer and then let her set it down on the ground a walk away. Don’t leave the event until you’re positive your documents are secure—whether that’s in a locked container, or the shredding takes place right in front of you.

Ready to look for a shredding event in your area? There isn’t one catch-all resource for the entire country, but if you just Google the name of your city or town and “shredding event,” you should be able to find what you’re looking for.

If you’re concerned about keeping your identity safe, IdentityForce can help you prevent identity theft from occurring—and if it does, we’ll let you know about it immediately and make things right. Learn more about our services today.

Melanie Medina

Sr. Director of Digital Marketing at IdentityForce
Melanie is a native of Bolivia who has lived in Boston for over 10 years. She likes to make time to travel, jog, read, and play backgammon. Fueled by copious amounts of coffee, Melanie stays on top of her to-do list while also keeping abreast of identity theft issues. Serious data breaches are happening all the time in the U.S. and Melanie loves being part of a solution that brings peace of mind to families across the country.

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