March 12, 2012

It's No Longer Just a Personal Threat: Businesses have Become the Newest Target for Identity Thieves

Shred-it tells businesses where identity theft happens and how to prevent it

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 12, 2012) -

Editors Note: There is an infographic associated with this press release.

The risks of personal identity theft are no secret, but many companies are still unaware that business identity theft is a rising trend they need to be concerned about. The problem for many organizations is that they don't know where or how fraud is happening, making it difficult to prevent. This Fraud Prevention Month Shred-it is helping in the fight against fraud by revealing some of the places where businesses might least expect fraud to occur.

Many companies underestimate the risk and consequences of business identity theft. According to Shred-it's 2011 Security Tracker, 47 per cent of small businesses felt that a data breach would not impact their business; however, a study by the Ponemon Institute demonstrates that a data breach could cost organizations an average of $7.2 million. This does not include indirect costs such as lost customers or damaged reputations, nor does it include the increased cost that could occur if a fraudster was able to assume a business identity.

"As new security threats continue to emerge, organizations are vulnerable to fraud in new and often surprising ways," says Mike Skidmore, Chief Security & Privacy Officer, from Shred-it. "Establishing a clear and far-reaching security protocol, including secure document destruction, can help safeguard information in the office, but businesses also need to be concerned about identity theft outside of the office."

To reduce the risk of identity theft businesses need to be aware that fraud can happen even in the most unexpected places:

  • The office - While you might think that paper documents are safe in the recycling bin, it is crucial that you shred all sensitive documents. To be fully protected, consider instituting a shred-all policy to ensure unneeded files are regularly and safely destroyed. 
  • Restaurants - A quick pit stop for coffee or a simple business lunch at a local restaurant could leave your organization susceptible to fraud. The hospitality industry accounts for 85 per cent of information breaches and investigations, more than half (57 per cent) of which occur in the food and beverage business. Employees should give their receipts directly to staff rather than leave anything on the table or counter. 
  • Hotels - The business traveler may put the company at risk of fraud, as sensitive documents may be left in garbage cans, hotel rooms or conference areas. Employees should be instructed to store all sensitive documents in a safe place until they can be securely shredded
  • Business attire - Storing documents in briefcases or suit pockets could lead to sensitive materials falling into the wrong hands. This material could be discovered on an airplane, in a taxi, or at the dry cleaners. Not only can businesses leave themselves at risk of having proprietary information fall into a competitor's lap, it can lead to serious financial and reputational fallout. 
  • On the cloud - Many businesses are opting to store their data on the cloud. While this might allow companies to save on technology costs, it could put them at a heightened risk of fraud. Cloud computing companies have data warehouses which may exist in countries that have lax security requirements. Businesses should conduct a full security audit of any cloud computing company before storing documents on the cloud.

"Regardless of size, location or specialty, businesses must take proactive measures to protect themselves from fraud not only during Fraud Prevention Month, but year-round," says Skidmore. "Only by doing so will they shield themselves from the various associated financial and reputational damages."

About Shred-it

Shred-it is a world-leading information security company providing document destruction services that ensure the security and integrity of our clients' private information. The company operates 140 service locations in 16 countries worldwide, servicing more than 150,000 global, national and local businesses, including the world's top intelligence and security agencies, more than 500 police forces, 1,500 hospitals, 8,500 bank branches and 1,200 universities and colleges. For more information, please visit

To view the infographic associated with this press release, please visit the following link: