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Angie's List: The Dos & Don'ts Of Paper Shredding

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Your personal information is everywhere: bills, bank statements, blank checks, and even credit card offers and magazine subscriptions.

If you don't take the disposal of this personal information very seriously, it could cost you.

"The main reason is identity theft is the fastest growing criminal act in the world for nine years in a row," says Chris Shepard, a Shredding Service expert. "One out of every three people will lose their identity just this year."

Residential paper shredding reduces the risk of having your confidential documents stolen and used against you. And shredding companies make it easy.

"A lot of questions are 'do you have to prepare the paper?' and you really don't," Shepherd says. "That's what we're all about. You don't have to take the staples, the paper clips, all that stuff out of the paper. It all goes right through the shredder, which is very nice and very fast and convenient."

"If your New Year's resolution is to get your house organized, getting rid of old documents can be a great approach, but using your own individual shredder can be time-consuming and it can constantly jam, so you might consider hiring a paper shredding company that can do this job in minutes," said Angie Hicks, of Angie's List.

If you're going to hire help, look for a company that's happy to showcase its process. You should be able to watch your items literally go through the shredder so you know your information can't be pieced back together.

"That's our whole concept. You stay and watch," Shepherd says. "You know it's done, it's taken care of, and so you have a peace of mind."

To reduce the risk of your documents being reconstructed, the shredded material typically goes into bales with multiple customers' shredded documents before being recycled.

Pricing options vary, but many companies charge by the minute or pound.

Others have their own system that customers can easily understand.

"When you go to the grocery store, they say, 'paper or plastic?' A plastic bag full of that, it's only $5. And then the big brown sack is $10. You bring a typical banker box in, a standard banker box, that's $15," Shepherd said.

But before you hand over that box or bag, always double check your documents.

"You don't want to have buyer's remorse when it comes to shredding, so be sure you look through all your document pile very carefully before you shred," added Hicks. "Otherwise, you could end up shredding something important. Also, be sure the company you're hiring isn't actually going to be handling and going through the documents that you're passing over because, again, you're doing this for your own protection and privacy."

"Make sure that there's not money in there. We do shred money," Shepherd said.

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