It is a common habit among people to throw out “junk mail” or documents they do not need to keep such as pre-approved credit card applications, bills, and bank statements. While it is true that you may not need to retain such information, throwing it into the trash could create issues for you in the future. Below are reasons why you need to start shredding your documents now instead of just disposing of them.

1. Prevent identify theft

The process of using one’s identifying and private information for financial gain, this is the most obvious and important reason to consider shredding documents. Identity thieves just need bits and pieces from different documents to put together a profile on you. Documents like paystubs and voided cheques need to be shredded as these can include your social insurance number (SIN) or bank account numbers. These types of numbers are what identity thieves look for as they make financial gains at your expense much easier. By shredding these documents, you guarantee your information is indecipherable to identity thieves and in turn minimizes the chances of you being a victim.

2. Prevent credit problems

If an identity thief gets hold of your SIN number, one of your old credit card statements, and your mailing address, it would not be too hard to either open up a credit card account in your name for them to use or use your existing card numbers to make purchases. Having this happen may create issues for you in the future as you try and correct this offence against you and attempt to establish credit. It is recommended that paystubs are kept for one year and credit card statements for one month. After these timeframes, shred the documents to prevent them from being stolen from your garbage or recycling.

3. If you are a business, it’s the law

In Canada, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) requires businesses dispose of personal information in a manner that prevents a privacy breach. Shredding is an ideal way to achieve this as it renders client’s information unreadable before disposal. Your business would suffer tremendously if word got out that a client’s identity was stolen or their privacy was violated because you did not take steps to properly dispose of their records. Non-compliance with the PIPEDA could mean hefty fines that you would have to pay as well.

4. Save space

Most people keep documents for far longer than they need to. As a result, file cabinets and storage boxes get inundated with paper. When you start the practice of shredding, the only space you need is for the shredder itself if you assume responsibility for the task or a secure box to put documents into for pickup by a shredding company to dispose of. Shredding documents that are no longer needed will allow the opportunity for you to free up space for more important documents that you do need to retain.

5. Easy disposal

Most, if not all, of your documentsare recyclable so you can enjoy the ability to recycle all paper that has been shredded and know you are doing your part in reducing harm to the environment. If you are a business, you can pride yourself on being eco-friendly and of course make your clients and competitors aware of this fact. Your documents can either be shredded by a company who can pick them up for disposal or you can shred yourself and bag it up for curb-side pickup or drop-off to a recycling facility. Either way, you can relish the fact that you are helping the environment.