While much of the crime happens online, paperwork with your personal information is still a real vulnerability.
Consumer Reports tested 19 paper shredders, cutting up 25,000 pages of paper in the process. All were cross-cut shredders. They slice paper both vertically and horizontally, so it makes it difficult for crooks to reassemble your documents.
The shredders ranged in price from $40 to $270. Some you empty by just pulling out a drawer, and others are like a wastepaper basket. With those, you have to lift the shredder mechanism off the basket to empty it. Some of them are pretty heavy, so that can be kind of difficult. They also tend to be top heavy, so they tip over more easily.
In the tests, some machines were a lot slower than others at shredding. 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 SPL-TXC22A, 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 HD1400MX 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.
Paper shredders used to be a safety hazard. Children could stick their fingers in the slot, and dozens of children were injured by the sharp blades. But all the shredders Consumer Reports just tested have much narrower slots that should be too small for a child's fingers to get caught.