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We Recycle!

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We Recycle!

Posted on 15 October 2010 by Total Secure Shredding

Hey Folks,

I’ve been sitting around for the last week wondering what the next blog should be about.

After looking around on the website to see what I’ve all covered, it dawned on me that I’ve never talked about recycling.

And the funny thing is that just about every person that comes down to our facility for paper shredding asks us, “So what do you do with all the shredded paper?”

The simple answer is that all the shredded paper gets bailed and recycled.

It’s a pretty cool situation since not only are you making sure that you are protecting your identity by getting everything shredded, you’re at the same time making sure none of these documents are taking up valuable space in the landfill.

Second, the recycling results in the final and complete destruction of your shredded documents as they are turned into new paper fiber products.

It’s one of those “Win-Win” situations!

However, this does present one problem…

I do keep a close eye on what is allowed to get mixed in with the paper.

One of the biggest sticking points we run into is x-rays that are contained within paper patient files.

It doesn’t take very many x-rays within a full load of paper to significantly diminish the recyclability of the entire load.

Consequently, there’s been more than one customer I’ve lost (or refused to take on) because they had x-rays mixed in with their paper.

It’s not practical to try to shred everything on-site while at the same time trying to separate out the x-rays for separate destruction.

I typically recommend that we provide off-site shredding services in these instances so that we can take the documents back to our facility, remove the x-rays, shred the paper documents, and then destroy the x-rays separately.

Of course, that means a lot of extra work… Which means extra cost… Which means we charge double to perform this service!

It’s kind of a bummer when the customer is faced with removing the x-rays themselves, the additional cost we charge is often a lot less then doing it yourself.

And, since I’m on the topic of what should and should not be included with your paper documents when it comes to shredding, here’s a list I’ve put together over the years:

What can be Shredded:

  • White Ledger Paper
  • Computer Paper
  • Colored Ledger Paper
  • Envelopes
  • Staples
  • Paper Clips
  • Manila Folders
  • Hanging Files
  • Two Prong Fasteners
  • Small Binder Clips

What can’t be Shredded:

  • 3 Ring Binders
  • Plastic Binders
  • Plastics
  • Large Metal Objects
  • Plastic Bags
  • Magazines
  • Food or Drink Containers
  • Cardboard
  • Brown Bags
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Newspapers

I hope this helps…

So remember, not only are you getting your documents shredded, your also helping to contribute to a more renewable environment.

Until next time.

Keep Totally Secure,

Mike

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10 Identity Fraud Prevention Tips

Posted on 02 August 2010 by Total Secure Shredding

Hey Folks,

Mike Here…

Identity Fraud (also commonly known as Identity Theft), is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States that affected more than 11 million adults in 2009.

We are talking about a crime that totals $54 Billion annually.

That’s not “Chump Change” but there are some very simple precautions you can take in order to greatly reduce your chances of becoming a victim of I.D. Theft.

Here are 10 tips I put together to help you protect yourself, your family, and your business from the dangers of I.D. Fraud:

  1. Properly shred or otherwise destroy all old bank statements, cancelled checks, old tax returns and other documents containing sensitive personal information prior to disposing of them. Personal information you should be on the lookout for is an individual’s First Name, or First Initial and Last Name linked with any of the following data elements:
    1. Social Security Number
    2. Driver’s License number or State Identification Card Number
    3. Account Number or Credit or Debit Card Number, in combination with any required security code, access code, or password that would permit access to an individual’s financial account.
  2. Be extremely cautions of anyone calling and asking to verify your information. Even if the person says they are from your bank, utility company, or other service provider. The safest bet is to not provide any information (especially social security and credit card or bank account numbers) and tell the person you’ll call them back using the phone number that is listed on a previous statement, invoice, or other correspondence. If the person on the phone gets upset and tries to push the issue, hang up immediately.
  3. When recycling electronics, make sure they have been properly sanitized before disposal. This includes computer hard drives and other memory capable devices such as smart phones.
  4. Do not email sensitive personal information (including credit card information). Most email is not encrypted and can be accessed if the sending or receiving computer has been breached by “Malware” (Trojans or Key Logging Software).
  5. Do not keep sensitive passwords and account information on your computer, laptop, or phone unless they have been properly secured. One free program you can use to securely store this type of information is “Keypass” http://keepass.info/
  6. Never give out your ATM PIN to anyone… Not even to close friends or relatives. Once you give your PIN away you are basically authorizing that person to have free access to your account. At that point, there’s not much that can be done if that person decides to take more than originally planned.
  7. Be cautious about online shopping. Only shop with recognized vendors that have good on-line reputations with proven secure websites. One thing to look for is that the webpage you’re putting your credit card information on has been encrypted. Once you get as far as putting in your credit card information, take a look in the website address window and make sure the website is prefaced by https. The “S” in “HTTPS” stands for secure and ensures a SSL/TLS protocol is in place to provide encryption so that no “eavesdropper” or “man-in-the-middle” can intercept your credit card information.
  8. Install an antivirus and malware software on each of your computers. A good antivirus program is called “Avast.” You can download a free version of at http://www.avast.com/lp-upgrade-4-5-free#. If you’re looking for a Malware program, checkout a program called “MalwareBytes”. Learn more about MalwareBytes and download a free version at http://www.malwarebytes.org/. And Finally, one of the best methods for preventing unauthorized access to your computer is to Update, Update, Update. It’s critical that you make sure all your software has been updated. Many times, these updates patch potential vulnerabilities hackers are using to access your computer.
  9. Review monthly checking, savings, and credit cards statements for unauthorized transactions. Even a relatively small monthly transaction can add up over many months or years.
  10. Perform an annual review your credit reports from the three credit reporting agencies so see if any unauthorized lines of credit have been opened. The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you can access your credit report free of charge every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion (read more at http://www.ftc.gov/freereports). The ONLY authorized site to get your free credit reports is www.annualcreditreport.com.

Feel free to comment below about any tips you may have that can help prevent I.D. Fraud.

Until Next Time…

Keep Totally Secure,

Mike

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Neighborhood Watch – I.D. Theft Lookout

Posted on 28 July 2010 by Total Secure Shredding

“Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?”
- Sesame Street

Hey Folks,

Unless you have young kids, it’s probably been a while since you’ve watched Sesame Street.

But, as Grouchy as Oscar is, there’s a good chance the individuals that are going through your trash are not nearly as harmless as good old Oscar the Grouch.

Even more important, the nicer the neighborhood you live in, the more valuable your trash is to those folks who like going through it.

Time and time again, I hear stories of neighborhood watches being on the lookout for individuals going through the trash bins. And let’s face facts: We’re talking about higher priced neighborhoods… and you know who you are.

It comes down to the potential value of the items you’re throwing away.

You remember the old saying: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Well there’s an extremely good chance that  a million dollar home is throwing away something that has a much higher “Treasure” value than lower priced neighborhoods.

And although it’s not a big deal for someone to take away that old lampshade you tossed out…

It is a big deal when you see that same individual pulling single sheets of paper out of your trash!

When that person is pulling out sheets of paper, smoothing them out, folding them up, and sticking them in their pocket, you can be certain that those papers are not being collected for their recycling value.

I think the inclination is to underestimate the ability of a garbage picker to use your personal data for their personal financial gain.

The thing is… Most identity fraud is still accomplished by accessing personal information through low tech methods such as someone going through your trash, giving your ATM PIN to a close friend or family member, or just leaving sensitive information lying around your home or office where someone can easily access it.

ID Fraud is often a crime of open opportunity and not necessarily that of hardened criminals. Don’t get me wrong… there are professional, high tech, I.D. Theft Criminals who are out to separate you from your money.

But for folks going through tough times, an old canceled check is an opportunity just waiting to be taken advantage of.

Your best option is to reduce and eliminate these opportunities for those who may want to take advantage of them.

Make sure to properly destroy sensitive personal information, either on paper or electronic, before disposal. And when in doubt, your best bet is to ensure proper destruction instead of taking the risk.

This is truly a time when an “Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure.”

Keep an eye on my blog in the next few days as I’ll be putting out a list of 10 items you can do to protect your identity.

Until then…

Keep Totally Secure,

Mike

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