July 14, 2016

Prevent Identity Theft: Lessons Learned from a Community Shredding Event

A community shredding event is a great community service. Everyone’s invited to bring their confidential documents to be destroyed on site for a minimal fee or donation to a local charity.

One of the most successful shredding events held by global document destruction leader Shred-it occurred in a Rhode Island community last spring. Over 1,300 vehicles showed up for the event, and they handed over more than 16 tons of paper for destruction.

What are some of insights drawn from this kind of event?

Data breaches are top of mind. Identity theft is one of the biggest concerns in and out of the workplace. In 2015, the number of identity fraud victims was at its second highest level in six years. According to the 2016 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin, identity fraud cost 13.1 million U.S. consumers a total of $15 billion in 2015.

“We’re not digital yet”.  Statistics show that the average office worker still uses over 10,000 pieces of copy paper a year. In fact, every business – and home – ends up with confidential information on paper ranging from addresses on envelopes and credit card statements to various documents containing business and financial information.

DIY shredding machines aren’t reliable. Office shredding machines are often strip shredders – and these are the least secure because the strips of paper can be reassembled. Also, these machines are labor intensive which means a lot of the time, paper is left stockpiled and not secure. Professional document destruction utilizes cross-cut shredding technology so that paper becomes confetti-like. Specialized shred sizes should be offered to meet different industry requirements.

Security is critical. At a community shredding event, a secure chain of custody should be evident with security trained experts and secure destruction. In the workplace, an experienced document destruction company will provide locked consoles for the collection and storage of documents that need to be destroyed.   

Prioritize compliance. Businesses are more aware than ever of the importance of privacy laws and compliance, according to the 2016 Shred-it State of the Industry Report. Privacy laws require timely document disposal, and there are fines for non-compliance. A professional shredding partner will provide a Certificate of Destruction after every shred.

Avoid the trash or recycling bin. Earlier research has shown that Americans receive over 4 million tons of junk mail every year (much of it contains personal information), and it often ends up in the trash. Dumpster-divers go through trash for this kind of information. To prevent identity theft, documents must be securely destroyed at the end of their useful life.

Recycling and shredding go hand-in-hand. After documents are shredded, a reliable document destruction service provider will send the confetti-sized pieces for recycling. According to the American Forest & Paper Association, a record 66.8% of paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling in 2015. Shred-it also provides customers with an annual certificate of environmental accomplishment that shows how many trees have been saved by the company.

Keeping the work area clean and tidy is a strategy everyone can use to protect confidential information.