"The benefits of decluttering go beyond simply organization," said Timothy Bentley, District Manager, Shred-it, Pittsburgh. "By securely and properly disposing of old files, papers, and electronic devices, you are preventing personal identity theft and business information security breaches, both of which can be a devastating matter to deal with personally, professionally and financially."
Consider this – Pittsburgh received 424 complaints of fraud and 101 complaints of identity theft per 100,000 people in 2015. That's a total of 10,008 fraud and 2,380 identity theft complaints in just one year, according to the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book1.
One of the best ways to protect against fraud and identity theft is to declutter and destroy and dispose of unwanted items and information. At the same time, it can be overwhelming for many who feel they do not have the knowledge or resources available to manage this task. Most often, old work and personal documents are perceived as valuable information, prompting many individuals to stockpile and store it away. However, according to the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), individuals never use 80 percent of the papers they file away2. Therefore, what better time than the end of a year to get rid of old devices, clear desks, and organize and remove paper clutter from the work space and home.
Shred-it has outlined some helpful tips to properly secure and dispose of confidential information at work, at home, and while on the go.
When it comes to protecting your customers, your reputation, and your business, it's important to remember key strategies to safely dispose unwanted files and documentation. Multiple file folders, printed emails, and other documents tend to linger around workstations and offices, subjecting employees to a data breach. When it comes to retaining documentation past the new year, businesses often question the amount of time they are required to hold on to confidential data. Implementing an information security program like Shred-it's suite of Workplace Security Policies which includes a Shred-it All policy, Document Management policy, and a Clean Desk policy, will help better manage the flow of workplace documents and ensures physical and digital documents are not held onto for too long. All documents should be kept in a secure, locked location or stored digitally in a password protected file before they're slated for destruction.
One person's trash day could be considered an identity thieves' cash day. While most people throw out or recycle unwanted items and documents on their garbage collection day, identity thieves consider that an opportunity to target and pocket valuable information. Shopping receipts, bank statements, bills, and credit card statements all contain enough information to cause a severe and costly personal identity breach if not disposed properly. Begin by decluttering and gathering all unwanted documents and files and ensure they are properly and securely disposed by attending one of the local Shred-it events in the community, or by using a document drop-off service, offered by local Shred-it branches. As an added bonus, all material destroyed at a Shred-it event or branch is recycled.
While on the go or working remotely from a coffee shop or library, always remember to protect personal information that is saved on electronic devices like a smartphone and laptop. All devices should be encrypted to protect the confidential information stored on them. Create long and strong passwords, with a mix of numbers, symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters that are routinely changed and kept private. Also, remember not to leave hardware or materials in vehicles. In addition to electronic devices, paper documents and files can also expose individuals to identity theft. Ensure you collect them when leaving your remote location.
Whether in the workplace, in your home, or on-the-go, remember that it's important to protect yourself against fraud and identity theft. Start the New Year knowing that you have taken the proper measures to securely dispose of unwanted papers, documents, and items. For more information, visit the Shred-it Resource Centre.
Shred-it is a world-leading information security company providing information destruction services that ensure the security and integrity of our clients' private information. A wholly, owned subsidiary of Stericycle, Shred-it operates in 170 markets throughout 18 countries worldwide, servicing more than 400,000 global, national and local businesses. For more information, please visit www.shredit.com.
1 Federal Trade Commission Consumer Sentinel Network Report 2015
2 National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO)