**Originally published on January 24, 2018. Updated July 14, 2020.**
We’ve all been there. You invested in a small shredder for your home with good intentions. You told yourself you’d shred any sensitive documents that crossed your path every day to keep them, and your Personally Identifiable Information (PII), 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 once coveted shredder has now become a makeshift side table in your living room — and all those documents you meant to shred are all over your house in little piles.
Most people begin to stress about those piles when they launch into spring cleaning mode. They want to get rid of all 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 a community shredding event in your local area. Here are four key questions you should know the answers to before you head to a shredding event near you.
What are community shredding events?
During community shredding events, there are usually enormous (industrial-sized) 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 find a local shredding company that 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 securely transport a large amount of shredded material for recycling.
Who hosts community shredding events?
Again, community shredding service hosting 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 the greater community.
Are community shredding events safe?
You want to attend one of the shredding events because you know properly disposing of sensitive documents can protect you 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 and 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.
Due to COVID-19 concerns and physical distancing restrictions, the way community shredding events are run may be very different this year, but it is still important to safeguard your documents until you are comfortable with how they have been stored or shredded. Even more important is disposing of your personal, confidential documents to keep them out of the hands of coronavirus scammers.
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. IdentityForce’s local community has just started advertising for upcoming shredding events this week, so be on the lookout for events scheduled in your area as well!
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 how we protect you today.