PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When it comes to identity theft, Pennsylvania ranks 14th in the nation.

It’s a distinction we would rather live without, but with so much of our personal information out there – it can be easy pickings for thieves.

More than 8 million Americans have their identities stolen each year and that’s why it’s so important to keep your personal information private. One way to do that is to shred your documents, but don’t trust just any shredder to keep you safe.

Security expert Robert Strang has been investigating identity theft for 30 years.

“Buy a shredder,” Strang says. “Shred your old documents; shred your old bills, your bank statements, anything that comes in with your name, your address or any personal information.”

Consumer Reports tested 19 paper shredders – shredding 25,000 pages of paper in the process.

“We tested cross-cut shredders,” Mandy Walker, of Consumer Reports, said. “They slice paper both vertically and horizontally, so it makes it hard for crooks to reassemble your documents.”

The shredders tested ranged in price from $40 to $270. Some you empty by just pulling out a drawer, while others are like a wastepaper basket.

“With those, you have to lift the shredder mechanism off the basket to empty it,” said Walker. “Some of them are pretty heavy, so that can be kind of difficult. Also, they tend to be top heavy, so they may tip over easily.”

In the tests, some machines shred pages a lot slower than others.

One of the most expensive, from Swingline, can shred 100 pages at a time. But it can be tough to feed in just a few sheets.

By far, the best shredder was the $270 Staples machine, which can handle at least 22 sheets at a time. It has a pull-out drawer that’s easy to empty, and it shreds CDs, DVDs and credit cards.

For far less, the $90 Royal is also a good choice. It can’t handle quite as much paper. But it has a pull-out drawer and is very easy to use.

If you already have a paper shredder, you may want to consider getting a new one. Most newer models come with safety features to prevent things like fingers and clothing from getting stuck inside.

If you have kids, it’s always a good idea to keep shredders unplugged and out of reach.

Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports: Paper Shredders
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