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How To Properly Destroy Your Credit Card

I love NBC's "The Office." I especially love Dwight K. Schrute. If you're familiar with the opening credits, then you may recall the repeating scene of Dwight destroying a credit card using his paper shredder. In this case, the act was used for dramatic effect, but it's true that this tactic works--given that your shredder is "man enough."  But what other options are there?  With credit and identity theft on the rise, it's imperative that consumers know some simple but effective techniques for destroying cards that have been closed or replaced. And if you've ever tried to destroy a credit card with your bare hands, you know it can be difficult. So here are the two best ways to make sure your old cards never fall into the hands of credit thieves.Cut It Up Chopping up your card is the most common form of destruction. There are those who go to the extreme in this process, cutting up each individual letter and number on the card into up to six separate pieces. There are various methods (and yes, even paper shredders can be used), but the end goal is no recognition--numbers, letters, nada. So, the more cuts you are able to make, the better. But, perhaps the most important part--which I feel is essential--is how you throw the pieces away. Don't just toss all the destroyed bits into a single garbage bag, making the missing puzzle pieces easily accessible in a single place. Throw the parts away in separate garbage loads or separate cans. This can also be taken to the extreme, but you get the idea. Torch It Another highly effective, but less used form of credit card destruction is to burn your card. It may not be the most eco-friendly method of getting rid of your card, but neither is cutting it up and sending it to the landfill. Pick your poison. That said, if you're able to burn your card sufficiently enough so that the magnetic reader and the name and number of the card are 100% unrecognizable, then you are in business. However you plan to destroy old credit cards, you may want to take the words of Dwight Schrute to heart, "Before I do anything I ask myself  'Would an idiot do that?' And if the answer is yes, I do not do that thing." So don't be an idiot--remember at the very least to cut up your credit cards before throwing them away.

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Minerva Studio

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Logan Abbott's picture

Logan Abbott is a personal finance and credit card expert with over 5 years of experience writing about each topic. He is a graduate of the USC Marshall School of Business, and also contributes to other online finance publications. He has been quoted in the New York Times, San Diego Union Tribune, TheStreet, and more.

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