The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has fined Payday Loan Stores more than $1.1 million for failing to protect consumer information. The fine is the result of the company throwing credit applications into the trash at its Bolingbrook location.
Every regulatory agency is looking for money. And what is easier than finding documents in the trash. This is a warning for any business in Illinois that the cost of an Illinois shredding service is a fraction of the cost of not shredding.
In Boulder, Colorado they don’t throw paper away; they recycle it. The problem is they don’t always shred it before recycling. A discovery was made of employee records with personal information discarded at a recycling plant. They called the local news who came out and did a story.
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has confirmed that they are investigating Walgreens for HIPAA violations relating to pharmacies failing to shred patient information. This is no surprise after the HHS got $2.25 million in settlement with number two chain CVS and $1 million from number three chain Rite Aid.
If you need money for your agency you can either get increases approved by congress or use existing laws to increase fines. The OCR must see HIPAA as an easy way to boost the budget. Every medical practice needs to be vigilant to protect themselves. You must either make shredding easy and documented with a service or make sure a manager is supervising the process.
The Riverview Gardens School District in St Louis, Missouri needs to work on their document destruction program. Parents coming back to school are now getting a warning about identity theft along with their school supply list. That is because student records were found in the dumpster. The records included names, addresses and even social security numbers.
These are hard times for school budgets but if they can’t afford a St Louis shredding service then they can at least have the parents dispose of their children’s record.
Several hospitals in Boston are investigating a HIPAA violation that left hundreds of patient charts in the trash. The files were found by a photographer for The Boston Globe. He notified the paper of the problem. [article]
The increased penalties to HIPAA that came with the Stimulus Package make this a very expensive mistake. It sure makes the cost of document shredding seem small.
The office of the Spartanburg County Treasurer has been caught throwing private tax information into the dumpster. When asked he said the janitorial staff was supposed to take care of the shredding. Apparently his staff shred some things but not all.
There are some common mistakes people make with the document destruction plans. They made three of them in Spartanburg:
If you let low level employees decide what to shred they will end up putting too much in the trash. It is always better to err on the side of shredding all paper.
People will not assign themselves the extra work of shredding. If you hand out shredders and hope for the best you will get bit as they toss paper into the trash can to save time. Employees need to be supervised or a shredding service used to make sure the work is actually done.
No one will notice if there are document in the trash. The will always be people going through the trash and it is protected by a ruling by the Supreme Court.