Albany- A paper shredder may be one of the best weapons we have to take a bite out of the fastest growing crime in the nation.
"People are actively seeking your personal information to steal your identity, so you have to be on guard at all times," said Lt. Jimmy Sexton, an investigator with Dougherty County Police.
Starting this summer, if you simply throw away an employee's personal information instead of slicing it up, you could be fined or sued.
"People are gathering information from the Internet, over the telephone, in the garbage," Sexton said.
In 2003, 7 million people in the U.S. were victims of identity theft. Those thieves charged an average of almost $93,000 to their victims. Those victims spent an average of almost $1,500 dollars and 600 hours to clear the thefts and recover.
That's why the federal government is saying everyone may want to invest in a shredder that will help guard personal information by cross-cutting or even turning it into confetti.
"Anything that someone might use to steal your identity," he said.
It's not just paper businesses have to be concerned with. Business owners must shred or burn paper, but they also have to smash or wipe computer disk or CDs containing personal information. The point is, the information must be destroyed.
Georgia already mandates the disposal of records containing personal information, but the federal laws include harsher penalties.