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Think you don’t need a shredder?

Posted by Richard on March 15, 2006

So, how paranoid about identity theft are you? Do you have a paper shredder? Do you use it religiously? If your answers are "not very," "no," and "obviously not, dummy," then you’d better go to and read Rob’s story of The Torn-Up Credit Card Application:

I get a heck of a lot of credit card applications in the mail.
A bunch for Visa, quite a few from Mastercard and tons of them from American Express.

I almost always tear them in half and throw them away.

Sometimes, if I am feeling particularly paranoid, I’ll tear them into little bitty pieces.

Is that good enough? Could a determined and dexterous criminal gather all the bits, tape them together and apply for a card in my name? Would a credit card company balk when confronted with an obviously resurrected application?

A test was in order, and when the latest application arrived from Chase Mastercard, I was equal to the task.

Go read it, really. It’ll only take a minute; it’s 4 pages, but each is just a few short sentences and some nice pictures illustrating the task. Fascinating.

Here’s the bottom line: After tearing the application into about 15-20 pieces, Rob taped them back together, filled it out, changed the pre-printed address and phone number, and sent it in. Chase sent him a credit card. At the new address he provided. And let him activate it with the cell phone number he’d provided.

Heck, someone who doesn’t have a (throwaway) cell phone could probably send them a pay phone number and use that.

Those of you who already have and use a shredder are probably feeling smugly self-satisfied now. As for the rest of you — well, this link should help.

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One Response to “Think you don’t need a shredder?”

  1. Jan from Denver said

    My word! What kind of company would honor that application. I use a shredder but it seems like those shredded pieces might be easier to put together. Burn them? Shredd and throw away with kitty litter?

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