I am not sure what my dad was thinking, but whenever he had an expired credit card he would give it to me to bend back-and-forth until it broke. Then he would toss it in the trash. Did he think this was fun for me? Well to this day I can’t stand that task or the smell of plastic on my fingers. Back then this might have been an effective way of thwarting credit card theft, but today you need to be extra cautious.
When you cut up a card you shouldn’t just simply slice the thing in half. You’ll need to slice each set of four numbers into six pieces (see the video below). You’ll also need to cut through your signature and the magnetic strip.
Really don’t forget that magnetic strip it contains a lot of information about you. Running a magnet over the strip will scramble the data. For even more insurance take a hammer and bang it along the strip to smash any RFID chips that may be embedded.
Some home shredders are capable of slicing credit cards. If you choose to use a shredder be sure it has cross-cutting functionality, so that your card is sliced and diced. A good shredder will have a slot to align the card for proper shredding and reduced jamming.
Don’t assume that you can safely toss your old cards into recycling. Though they might be expired thieves do know how to extract data. Recycling centers often employ more hand picking techniques and could be even more risky for identity theft.
I guess some people burn their cards, at least that’s what I’ve heard. While it does completely destroy the data, I wouldn’t recommend this because it is environmentally bad and stinks.
Once you’ve chopped up your card, even if you use a shredder, separate the pieces into at least two different trash bins. That way they have less likelihood of being pieced back together.
This video shows you how to simply and effectively destroy any plastic card.