The rising tide of identity fraud has triggered a surge in sales of shredders to destroy personal documents, it has been claimed.
Sales of home shredders in the first quarter of this year were over 90 per cent ahead of 2004 and the market continues to expand.
Midland manufacturer ACCO Rexel, which has a site in Halesowen, is among the firms which is experiencing an upsurge in demand.
Jill Organ, senior category manager at the company, said: "People are much more aware of the risks of identity theft through the careless disposal of papers.
"Virtually every week there are new cases of victims who have lost hundreds of pounds, demonstrating the need for care in disposing of paperwork.
"Prices of shredders are coming down as sales volumes increase, which is great news for consumers thinking of buying a shredder for home use. We now estimate that overall market sales for the year to last March were a huge 188 per cent up on the previous year."
Ms Organ said more people were buying cross cut shredders which cut paper into even smaller pieces.
Cross-cut shredders now account for some 40 per cent of models sold, compared with 30 per cent a year ago in value terms.
Ms Organ said: "Everyone recognises that identity fraud victims suffer greatly. And most agree that they would feel violated if they discovered that faceless individuals had been controlling their identities and spending their money.
"Yet, despite this, threequarters of the UK's bins still contain personal information and one-fifth contain bank account details."
Recent market research on behalf of Acco Rexel showed that those people most likely to buy a shredder were 40 years and over, worked consistently or occasionally from home and were more than likely to be involved in finance or legal professions.