June 28, 2018
Today, many workplaces partner with a professional document shredding service because they know ensuring confidential documents are properly destroyed before disposal is one of the best ways to keep data out of the hands of thieves.
But what happens to everyone’s personal documents at home? While some people still toss personal papers into the garbage or they use a do-it-yourself shredding machine, which is not ideal.
The 2018 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin showed that 16.7 million people in the U.S. were victims of identity theft in 2017, up from 15.4 million the year before.
According to Experian data, in 2017, consumers paid over $744 million in fraud complaints with the median amount paid at $450.
Identity theft (which is also called identity fraud) is when a criminal wrongfully obtains someone’s personal data with plans to use it fraudulently. Identity thieves are after any piece of personal information including name and address, phone numbers, account numbers (bank account, credit cards, social security, medical records), passwords, and other data that would help them gain access to an identity and money. Criminals piece data together to create a new identity, or they use a complete existing identity.
There’s so much confidential information to keep track of today, including official ID (birth certificate, driver’s license, health card), junk mail and offers, magazine subscriptions, and paperwork from legal firms, accountants, and other professionals. Experts recommend locking financial documents and records in a safe place at home and limiting what is carried around – so taking only necessary identification and credit and debit cards. Have a process for weeding out and destroying junk mail (the Federal Trade Commission provides information on how to stop unsolicited mail). Be sure to destroy receipts, credit offers, credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks, bank statements, expired charge cards, and similar documents when they are no longer needed.
Many people still simply toss old documents into the garbage or recycling bin, but dumpster divers may go through these bins and steal it. Never throw out intact documents or loosely crumbled papers.
With the current recycling rate for all recyclables at just 34%, there is no certainty that paper is being recycled. Plus, there are many points of exposure throughout the recycling process so information that is not properly shredded may be compromised. A professional document shredding company has a secure process in place to effectively shred documents, bundle the confetti-like pieces, and send bales to a recycling facility.
Do-it-yourself shredding does not guarantee that documents are sufficiently destroyed. Home shredders are usually strip cutters and while they’re messy and jam easily, they’re also a huge security risk. The strips that are created can be reassembled – which means data is not protected. A professional organization uses industrial-grade cross-cut shredders so that shredding is quick and efficient, and all that’s left of documents are small confetti-like pieces.