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Disposing of Sensitive Financial Documents

We all know the dangers of carelessly disposing off sensitive document. With people who are dedicated to dumpster diving and scavenging, in no time you’ll have endless cases of identity theft, business plans and strategies duplication, and consequently huge losses and even court cases. It is therefore paramount to look for effective ways to dispose sensitive financial documents.

Shredding the Documents

It is important that you use a shredder that can also cut across the sensitive documents instead of a simple strip-cut shredder because it produces smaller pieces of paper. This will ensure protection from potential information thieves who may reconstruct those strips into complete pages. Use a shredder that can cut strips of 1/32 or less of an inch, and a crosscut of ½ inch.

You can get paper shredders from office supply shops. They are in 6 levels of security depending on how thin the cut is. The widest is 1, while the thinnest is 6; recommended for use on government documents that are Top Secret. Anything below 1/16 * 5/8 (a 4) is not appropriate for use on sensitive documents.

Many offices have services for record destruction or paper shredders. Ask your office administrator whether it is okay to come with your personal documents for disposal.

Burning the Documents

Standard pits are the best for burning sensitive documents since they are off the land and have a top covering. This helps create better airflow, and you are assured of burning your documents more completely. It also helps prevent some pieces of your documents from escaping the fire.

Note that most cities and residential areas prohibit open burning of trash. At times you may even require a permit. You can look up the specific rules in your city; just search the name of your location and then type “open burn regulations”.

Another brilliant solution is expert burn cages; metal cages which play the role of outdoor incinerators.

You can also use burn barrels. The most frequently used drum barrels are those made of steel. They are effective for containing document fragments. They are nonetheless not recommended because they give off dangerous toxins, and some states such as Illinois have prohibited their use. 

Pulping the Documents

Put the sensitive documents inside a huge trashcan. You may require a can that is wide and tall enough for all your liquids and documents to fit easily. Additionally, you need to have strong enough material so that it cannot be deformed or deteriorated when it gets in contact with water and bleach. You need a trashcan with a capacity of 30 or more liters. This is because the liquid needed to dissolve your documents is about 22L. You will hence have enough space to churn them. Plastic trashcans are convenient as they are resistant to diluted bleach.

Once you have let the documents sit in the bleach for a while, take the pulp out and dry it. Put the dried waste in trash bags and then take them out where you put your regular trash. If there is a person who goes through your trash, like identity thieves, they will have a hard time getting any information from those documents.

Destroying Digital Documents

Erase the documents 

Find each of the files in your hard disk with sensitive data. Right click on them and select send to the recycle bin. Empty the recycle bin. In case you are sure that no one will use superior techniques to find your data, this method is simple and appropriate. However, the deleted files are easily retrievable, since there are many programs that can be bought for that purpose.

Overwrite your hard drive

Your hard disk saves its information in form of binary numbers (1’s and 0’s); the language of the computer. Overwriting programs, which can be found online, go through the information and replace it using random chains of binary numbers. This method should be used on a semi-permanent basis or else your data may never be recovered again.

Degauss your hard drive

This is exposing magnetic technology like hard drives to strong magnetic fields, which destroy the information. It is expected that it completely discards the magnetism of your device, making it unusable. To buy your own degaussing device, you need alot of money. However, you can rent it or simply hire professional IT services.

Physically destroy your hard drive

This is the most effective method available. Acceptable methods include high heat, drilling and hammering. Using any of these methods, you should first take your hard drive out of its outer framework. If you choose hammering, apply a lot of force right above the hard drive. If you go for drilling, punch many holes directly through it. If you choose such as blow torch, melt through it completely.


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