By the AllClear ID team
Vanessa here from AllClear ID.Â As we’ve mentioned many times before paper shredders are a key component of identity theft protection, but there’s a new “unshredding” technology that makes it easier to restore shredded documents which could undermine your identity theft protection efforts.
The new technology was put in the spotlight a couple of years ago when financier R. Allen Stanford was accused of running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme. Soon after he was arrested Federal prosecutors told a judge they would reassemble evidence shredded by his company, although it would take about two months to put together three bags worth of shredded papers. (Stanford is still awaiting trial on a number of charges related to his company).
How exactly could prosecutors do that? With sophisticated scanning technology. Technicians feed every available shred into a scanner, and software analyzes the text based on size, color, indentation and font, guessing which pieces belong next to each other.
Even though the process is complex, unshredding technology is becoming more readily available. One company sells the Unshredder, calling it the worldâ€™s first commercial document reconstruction tool – allowing anyone with a computer and scanner to piece shredded documents together.
So are your documents at risk of being unshredded?
If you have a standard shredder you may be more vulnerable. The long paper strips created by the most common shredders are the easiest to analyze. Stop ID theft by using Cross-cut shredders, which cut paper in two directions, along its length and width, and turn papers into little pieces of confetti. Cross-cut shredders cost slightly more, but they are also far more secure.
Even better would be the really heavy-duty models that pulverize documents into dust (the Department of Defense uses them for top-secret files). They’re not for sale at Best Buy just yet, so we’ll all have to wait just a little while longer.