The Insider: Shredders
Taking the right steps to protect your identity
Saturday 25 April 2009
Identity theft costs the UK economy 1.2bn a year that's 25 for every adult. To stop thieves accessing your details, it's essential to shred all paper-based documents that include personal data. The Home Office (www.identity-theft.org) advises that you destroy everything that has your name and address on it, even junk mail.
An international shredding standard rates shredder security. Shredders reaching level 3 will effectively destroy confidential material and are suitable for home use. Which? found strip-cut shredders rarely achieve better than level 2 security and should be avoided. Opt instead for a diamond or cross-cut model. Cross-cut shredders slice documents in two directions and into small enough pieces to ensure they are difficult to re-assemble. Diamond cutters do the same, but shred your documents into diamond shapes.
"Some cheaper shredders represent excellent value," says Martyn Hocking, the editor of Which? magazine. "One of the best we've tested costs under 35, so spending less does not necessarily mean you're compromising security. But unless you're only going to do a very minimal amount of shredding, opt for a powered rather than hand-powered model." In the latest Which? test, the highest-scoring cross-cut model tested was the Fellowes DS1, above right. This excellent shredder takes up to 14 sheets in one go and cross-cuts them at 25 sheets every 17 seconds the fastest model Which? has ever tested. It's easy to use, gets full marks for durability and is the only Which? Best Buy that the manufacturer says can take staples and paper clips. The only downside is that it's a bit bulky. It is priced at around 78.
The top diamond-cut shredder tested was the Swordfish 500DC, above left, which is exceptional value at just 31. It's small and has few features but does the basics well and is easy to use. It takes eight sheets at a time, shredding 25 sheets of A4 paper in 30 seconds. Should you have a jam, then there's an excellent reverse motor function. This shredder is best for lower volumes though, having a relatively small 7.5 litre bin, but it's a durable machine.
Where to buy
Shredders are available at major high street retailers and stationers as well as online. You can check stockists and compare the latest prices using Which?'s price comparison service at www.whichcompare.co.uk.
Questions to ask...
* How much paper can it shred in one go? If you need to destroy a large volume of documents, consider a shredder that can handle a heavier load to speed up the process. Also check that it can cope with A4 paper, as some only have A5 sized-slots.
* How big is the bin? While bigger bins need emptying less often, smaller models save space. As a guide, a 10 litre bin may take about 60 shredded sheets.
* Will it shred CDs and credit cards? If you want to destroy CDs with personal information, or expired debit or credit cards, look for a machine that can destroy these materials as well as paper.
* Will it accept staples and paperclips? Not all shredders will cope with these items, so you will need to remove them from your documents unless the manufacturer makes this claim. Check the spec before you buy.
The Insider is written by Which?, the independent consumer champion. For details on how to protect your identity, visit www.which.co.uk/protectID. To get three issues of Which? magazine for a special price of 3, call 01992 822800 and quote INADVICE.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Pension mortgages: 'The advice I was given was wrong and now I face losing my home'
Best savings rates are not all they might seem
Questions of Cash: I checked in with Air France in time and still missed the plane
Minister's pension promise to firefighters challenged
Gold-plated pensions – the key to retirement freedom?
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
- 5 The Queen’s speech 2014: Recap and Twitter reaction to Game of Thrones reference
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader
iJobs Money & Business
Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...
£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...
Day In a Page
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens