March 19, 2019

Ask the Expert: Are people protecting themselves properly against fraud?

Have you ever received a suspicious email from what appears to be your boss or a senior executive? If you have, then you’re not alone. It has become a reccurring nightmare for both employees and business owners to get caught up in scams involving fraudsters who send realistic–looking messages tricking individuals into either wiring money or exposing confidential information.

To help avoid getting caught up in a similar scam, Paul Saabas, Vice President of Stericycle, the provider of Shred-it solutions, provides some practical tips and insights on what to look out for – and what to do to prevent this (and other acts of fraud) from happening to you.

What do individuals need to be on the lookout for?

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Center has found that identity theft has been increasing at an average of 33 per cent per year. 

What this means, is that individuals need to pay more attention to the protection of physical documents and material. There is a lot of attention given to the issue of cybersecurity, however, 53 per cent of identity theft fraud comes from non-digital material, according to a 2017 Identity Theft Assessment and Prediction Report. This is concerning and individuals need to be on the lookout for both cybersecurity and physical document risks.

With data breaches in recent news headlines, why are individuals still not properly protecting themselves against fraud?

This answer is two-fold. I believe that there is a lack of education and training on the issue of fraud – especially when it comes to hard documents. Too much attention is given to the topic of cybersecurity. A recent Forbes Magazine highlighted how in 2018, North American businesses spent over $102-billion (U.S.) on cybersecurity alone, yet, only $12-million was spent on the protection of physical information. 

Secondly, many individuals have a ‘this won’t happen to me’ mentality, and don’t take the issue of data protection seriously. Yet, the global average of a data breach can cost $3.86 million to a business’s bottom line. This number also doesn’t take into consideration the damage done to an individual’s personal brand.

What can individuals do to better protect themselves?

In order to eliminate the risk of a data breach from occurring, everyone needs to incorporate good data protection habits into their daily routine – both at work and at home. At work, it is important to incorporate a Shred-it All Policy that requires everyone at the office to shred documents that are no longer needed. A Clean Desk Policy can also help. It is also important to make sure that everyone at the office – both new and old – receives proper training throughout the year. This is particularly important with the rise of the open office concept.

At home, individuals needs to make sure that they regularly change both their work and personal cell phone passwords. When traveling, it is important to regularly shred all boarding passes and travel itineraries.

A document destruction program is one step to becoming more protected against fraud and identity theft. To learn more about how Shred-it can help, fill out a form today to get a free quote and security risk assessment.