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Paper Shredding Paranoia

Posted on 07 September 2010 by Total Secure Shredding

“I always feel like somebody’s watching me… ” (Rockwell)

Hey Folks,

I often get questions about what should and shouldn’t get shredded…

Actually, I get that question on a daily basis!

It’s funny that sometimes customers will come in for shredding down at our facility and actually make the excuse that the stuff they are shredding isn’t even that important – However they still want to watch and make sure it all gets shredded.

And for sure, not everything that is or should be shredded is just old tax returns, utility bills, bank statements, and cancelled checks.

We see a lot of old business cards, holiday cards, and the mailing addresses ripped off of old magazines.

Perhaps this is where customers get the notion that the stuff they are shredding isn’t all that important.

First of all, I don’t judge what my customers do and don’t deem important enough to shred.

I for one shred everything. I even had a customer that brought in multiple boxes of old Playboys for shredding… Go Figure!

Second of all, there’s a very good reason to make sure everything that has your name plus any sort of contact information should be properly destroyed…

That reason is called Social Engineering.

You may or may not have heard of social engineering.

… But is goes something like this:

Let’s say you throw away a bunch of old copies of Business Week or your subscription to the Wall Street Journal.

And let’s say that this old magazine or newspaper has your name and address – Sometimes they’ll even have your phone number listed.

Now, let’s say some Jerk finds your old magazine or newspaper, with your contact information, and decides to give you a friendly reminder call…

Maybe he’ll say that your subscription is about to expire and if you would like to provide your credit card information he can continue sending your subscription without interruption.

Maybe he’ll be so cunning as to ask if you want to extend the subscription for another year for only 50% more. Or maybe he’ll even throw in the free football phone!

And on top of everything, there’s a good chance you’ll hastily pull out your credit card and provide him exactly everything he needs in order to make the charge.

If this Jerk is smart, and you’re lucky, he’ll only make a small charge on your credit card so you won’t even know you’ve been scammed.

If you’re unlucky, he’ll run up your credit card so there will be no doubt you’re the victim of I.D. Fraud.

Or perhaps, he will just put a small charge on your card and then sell the information to someone in Nigeria who will max it out.

Don’t think these Jerks exist?

… Here’s one…

His name is Kevin Mitnick and apparently his biggest problem is “Staying Legal.” Here’s the full article.

This guy spent 5 years in the hoosegow for calling up employees of various large companies such as Novell, Motorola, and Nokia and using his “schmoozing” skills “to get source code and other sensitive information.”

To good news is that this guy uses his infamous reputation to make a living as a consultant, speaker, and author (sarcastic tone).

Here’s the deal…

This guy was able to talk his way into some pretty sensitive information from people who really should have known better.

I guarantee there are loads of just as sophisticated people out there trying to pry you from your hard earned money. All they have to do is get enough contact information, with just enough relevant personal information, in order to sound believable… and then it’s just a matter of making enough phone calls.

Just this year I had someone from a cell phone company call me to settle a small bill (about $35) that supposedly was overdue. I told them to send me a bill. They wouldn’t until I confirmed some more personal information. I refused and they got upset and eventually hung up – never to call back.

So indeed, these jerks are out there (it’s not always a “he”; in my “phone company call,” it was a “she”).

But there are some precautions you can take. In a recent blog, I listed 10 Identity Fraud Prevention Tips

Tip “Two” specifically discusses how not to fall victim to Social Engineering.

Another good tip is to shred anything that may contain your personal information… even if at first glance it may seem silly or paranoid.

In the end, I won’t think any less of you for bringing in as much as you see fit to ensure you remain free from I.D. Fraud.

Actually… Welcome to my world of Paper Shredding Paranoia!

Until next time…

Keep Totally Secure,


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  1. Phone Jacking Your Credit Card - Prevent ID Fraud | Total Secure Shredding Says:

    [...] This blog entry takes up right where the last blog left off… Paranoia! [...]

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