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"Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you". Who are they? Those who would use your identity to impersonate you in order to get hold of money and goods and leave you holding the bill. So, a little bit of paranoia does no harm!
In order to do this they often need to get their hands on documents that demonstrate that the bearer is the person whose name appears on them. Often this will be way of documents thrown away by householders; it is still a source of valuable treasure to those who make it their business to acquire false documents, rummaging through dustbins and even rubbish tips.
In theory, banks and other financial organisations that provide access to money and goods should only accept evidential documents that provide positive proof that they belong to the named owner but it has been known for documents as mundane as advertising blurb to be accepted.
So, rendering sensitive documents unusable by the ungodly makes sense. I shred *everything* that has my name and address on.
We've been using a shredder for many years. It was a straight-cut shredder, which sliced documents lengthwise. This isn't a perfect approach to destruction as someone with enough time on their hands can reconstruct documents shredded this way although it will likely only be for the information they contain rather than being able to physically use them as proof of identity.
When the old one started to fail we decided it was time for a new one, and one that made a better job of destroying documents. However, we didn't want one that cost the earth and claimed to be able to shred trees before they were made into paper. The one that seemed to tick all the boxes was a Ryman own-brand one, the XC600CM.
The shredder is a reasonably compact size, standing about 18" wide, 6" deep and around 24" high with a slot to accept up to A4 width paper. It also claims to be able to shred CDs and credit cards, though I haven't tried it on either of those. It also states it can handle up to 7 sheets at a time but I think that's pushing it a bit; it slows down noticeably the more you throw at it. The recommendation is that you do not use it continuously for longer than two minutes without giving it time to cool down.
The shredded paper ejects into a mesh bin; I did notice that paper dust can escape but this isn't a serious problem. In fact, you get more dust in the air simply emptying the bin when it's full. This is because it does a stonking job of shredding paper. The machine is described as a cross-cut shredder but in reality is closer to a confetti shredder; the output looks more like tiny strips about a few millimetres wide and about a centimetre long.
The shredder head, when you lift it off to empty the bin, is quite heavy, demonstrating a substantial build quality that should ensure that it last a good long time. If you do forget to empty the bin then the shredded paper can stick to the underside of the shredder head so make sure that you empty regularly.
Disposing of the shredded paper is also an issue. Our council provides a green bin for all recyclable material and they do ask that shredded paper be enclosed within a bag before depositing it in the bin. I confess I didn't do this with the old shredded but with this one, it is essential. I just use and old plastic supermarket bag and tie the handles together to stop the waste escaping. It seems to work.
I am impressed with the efficiency and reliability of this Ryman shredded and, at just under £25 it is good value for money as well.