Catch (Up) 22
The Venerable Paper Shredder: You can only shred the mail you get!
It never ceases to amaze me to learn that most of the people I talk to either own a paper shredder, burn, or cut up the personal information they receive at their homes. These people are wary to prevent this information from getting into the hands of identity thieves. When I ask them where they get this personal information, most of them think for a second or two and reply, “I guess most of it comes out of my mailbox”. Sometimes at this point I see a look of confusion in their faces. When I ask them if they have a secure locking mailbox, almost all of them reply no. With that answer, people can usually see the chink in their armor.
What good is it to shred the sensitive information you receive in your mail if it is not protected at the source? Are you really getting all of your sensitive mail? Would you know if you didn’t? How long would it take you to figure this out?
Paper shredders started to appear in businesses in 1984 after the Supreme Court, in California v. Greenwood, held that the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the warrantless search and seizure of garbage left for collection outside of a home (Wikipedia). Garbage became fair game for anyone. From this point, the popularity of the paper shredder has continued to gain popularity in most businesses and many homes. Over the last several years the sales of paper shredders has soared. However, locking mailboxes have not shared the same popularity. Sales of secure locking mailboxes have increased steadily, but not to the same degree as the paper shredder.
I believe that when people follow the logic stated above, sales of truly secure locking mailboxes like the Mail Boss brand will Catch Up with the paper shredder. And the 22: Like I always say, “You can’t shred what you don’t get.”
It never ceases to amaze me that experts recommend paper shredders as the first line of defense against identity theft. We are always told how important it is to shred sensitive material like credit card offers, bills, etc. But do the experts stop to think where this information comes from? It is much easier for thieves to casually steal mail from an unlocked mailbox… discretely.. than to dig through a dumpster. Locking mailboxes are the *first line of defense* against identity theft.
That is true. I always recommend people to get their bills and bank statements electronically. This not only saves paper (and the environment) but also gives the criminal less chance of grabbing your mail before or after it leaves your house.
For more on document security: http://web.archive.org/web/20110916074104/http://www.fellowes.com:80/fellowes/site/workspace/workspace_article_identity_6.aspx