Office Document Strategies Blog

Privacy Concerns Drive Paper Shredding

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Thu, Jan 2, 2014 @ 08:01 AM

Anyone who reads the news understands that privacy is a challenge in the fast paced world we live in.  Paper shredding in all of its many forms has grown to be a significant force due to these concerns.  For many people their concern about privacy leads to issues with how to handle the paper which comes to them as part of their daily lives.

For businesses there are several ways that they can attack the shredding issue.  Some use on site boxes for shreddable materials and have a service which picks it up and processes it on a regular basis.  For others it is a single shredder and users are encouraged to take their shredding to the device regularly.  This is common in the admin office of many companies but more unlikely in areas like shipping or warehousing.  A few may have personal shredders at key workstations to deal with confidential materials.

For individuals it is a bit more challenging, usually because they don't wish to spend the money to acquire a full fledged shredder.  Some will use personal shredders designed to fit over a waste basket and handle a couple of sheets at a time.  For others they will collect the materials and deliver to a retail location for shredding.  Often when people move or a home is being closed out there will be a larger collection of shredding which will cause them to look for a solution which can deal with that need.  Each time the mail arrives with a solicitation or some correspondence partially disclosing one of their many account numbers it creates a need for a paper shredding solution.

Even as the amount of paper material appears to be declining the amount being shredded seems to climb.  Part of this is the realization that almost any document which includes information from a business could be used by someone who is looking to find out proprietary or leading info.   It means that any kind of correspondence between a business and its customers or suppliers is such that it should be shredded, not just the highly risky material like accounting or financial data.  Simple shipping documents or quotations could be clues to what is happening that might not be information that one would want in hands of others.  Individually pieces may not be important but collectively they could lead to trends which outsiders should not see.

There is one other level of shredding that is not usually of concern personally but which could be important in a business.  This is the electronic media which can accumulate in a business.  CD's, DVD's and other electronic media, especially if they have been part of an IT environment should also be subject to physical destruction.  Many commercial shredders will incorporate this capability into the devices and it is a feature that when purchasing a shredder may be worth considering.  Knowing that such material has been safely destroyed prior to disposal can be comforting and a good additional step.

Identify fraud is a real issue in Canadian society with a higher value each year.  According to stats from the Canadian Antifraud Centre the dollar value has increased over the past three years and their data only reports the tip of the iceberg of activity since many cases never get reported to them.

Canadian Identity Fraud Statistics 2010 to 2012 resized 600Taking steps to protect personal information is a sensible thing for people to take and a required step for businesses.  The impact of the publicity from a leak would be critical to most commercial entities and of substantial impact on those charged with large quantities of personal data.  Of course the paper portion of the risk does not cover all the risks which people or businesses might face, but it is an important component which should not be ignored.

Have you taken the steps to protect information held on paper?  How does your shredding process compare?

Lee K

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Photo Credit: http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm  

Topics: Canadian Legislation, shredders