Security and Safety

5 Simple and Safe Document Destruction Hacks

By Brian Kendall 1.24.17

Consider this scenario: you walk out your front door and begin yelling your name, social security number, alarm code, cell phone number, and other personal information at the top of your lungs for all to hear. Sounds ludicrous, right? While you may not think of it the same way, simply throwing away bills, credit card statements, and other sensitive documents you wouldn’t want to share with unknown strangers makes you equally as vulnerable when it comes to identity theft. According to the Texas attorney general, more than 25,000 Texans report being identity theft victims, with countless others unaware they’ve been made a target.

So, how do you discard such documents to keep your identity secure?

While a paper shredder makes for a smart investment, they aren’t immune to mechanical problems. And though you might have two hands that can do plenty of ripping, there isn’t an effective way to break sensitive documents down to a safe level. But don’t throw in the towel — or your secure documents — just yet. These five document destruction hacks can save you money and keep your sensitive info nice and safe.

Hit the office supply store 

Most office supply stores carry identity protection products that take up a lot less space than a bulky document shredder, including these shredding scissors, identity-protecting stamps, and a shredder attachment for your existing office trashcan.

Go paperless

This one might seem obvious, but according to Document Media, in 2014, 14 billion paper bills were delivered to Americans, which accounts for more than 75 percent of all household bills sent. Every one of these documents represents an opportunity for an identity thief. Most businesses now have the option to make all documents associated with your account paperless, meaning you receive and pay your bills via their website or email. To make your identity more secure, contact your bank, cable provider, cell phone service, etc. and see how you can switch to receiving all bills through your email. Just make sure you have a strong password and take other cyber security measures to protect your information.

Make them an addition to your s’mores party

The next time you safely build a backyard campfire to enjoy s’mores with the kiddos, make this an opportunity to discard your bills and other sensitive documents. This is actually the most surefire way (see what we did there?) to destroy all documents. Just make sure your county isn’t currently under a burn ban by looking at this updated county map and be sure to take all safety precautions and adhere to local ordinances.

Break documents down with water and bleach

Take a large bucket and fill it with the documents and enough water and bleach (use a 10-to-one water to bleach ratio) to completely submerge them. After letting the documents soak for 24 hours, you can then use a paint turbine mixer to break up the unwanted papers. You can watch this video for step-by-step instructions on how to do this. 

While shredding documents and receiving online bills can help keep your identity protected, one of the best ways to secure peace of mind is through a monitoring service like VerifID. Using your Texas Farm Bureau member benefits, you and your family can receive this line of defense at a discounted rate.

Don’t know which documents you should shred or file away for a rainy day? Check out our guide to find out which paperwork you should shred, toss, or keep.