We just posted that Shred Works won recognition for their recycling efforts. The important thing to remember is they are a shredding service with a primary focus of document security. Recycling is a great benefit of their process but not the primary one. A recycler should never be confused with a shredder. The documents are handled very differently.
The prime example is TransLink. They had a fare increase and needed to shred all of their old tickets. The tickets are a negotiable instrument. They could be considered a cash equivalent. Negotiable instruments should always be shredded in front of a witness of the company. Most commonly this is done with mobile shredding. However, it could also be done by sending a representative to the shredding plant. The reason is simple, this is the exact information the entices people to do the wrong thing and pocket it.
TransLink didn’t even use an off-site shredding company. They opted for a recycler. A recycler will destroy the material but does not have the security measures in place that a shredder will. These include cameras, background checked employees, and secure facilities. They ofton let workers handle the documents. Always make sure that your documents are not sorted by anyone. They should be “blind shredded.” This is feeding the files into the shredder without coming into physical contact with a person.
TransLink sent 30 pallets of tickets worth $20 million off to the recycler. Some were taken and not shredded. Now an an estimated $153,000 worth of tickets are on the black market.
So the lessons we can learn from TransLink are basic. Recycling is not shredding. Never call a recycler to do a shredders job. If you are working with negotiable instruments you must witness the shredding. This can be done with on-site or off-site shredding but the later requires you to travel to a plant. And never work with any company that employs a “sorter.”
Congratulations to Shred Works. The Oakland based shredding service has been recognized as “Bay Area Green Business Certified.” The company earned the recognition by recycling 100% of what they shred. This accounted for 3,856 tons of paper last year.
The great thing about operating a shredding service is you get to save peoples identities and at the same time protect valuable natural resources.
Christmas vacation is a great time to clean everything out. After you clean out the lima beans from the pantry that are even too old to give away it is time to look into the file cabinet. Tax documents will soon be arriving and it will make things much easier for you and your accountant in April if you have everything in one place. Take the time to create your 2011 folder if you haven’t done so already.
Now take a look of everything you are storing. You will want one box for shredding and one for recycling. The shredded paper should end up being recycled also but contains information that should leave the house in one piece. There are likely directions and warranty cards for that old tube television and the VCR. These can all be put in the recycling box.
Next are old bank statements, credit card statements and financial statements . You only need the latest bank statement after the check book is balanced. Credit card statements are needed if you have expenses that can be deducted. Move these to the 2011 tax folder you just created. They may also be useful if your credit card provides aditional product warranties. And of course you want to review them for any false charges or identity theft. Financial statments should be kept if there are purchases you will need to record for tax purposes. Everything that is no longer needed in this category should go into the shredding box (the prospectuses can just be recycled).
It is not uncommon for most people to store years and years of paystubs. You will need two weeks if you are applying for credit but otherwise all the past information is stored on the new paystub. So throw the pile into the shredding box.
When it comes to old tax records there are different opinions. The conservative approach is to keep them for seven years. More aggressive people would say four years. I recommend seven years because that is what our CPA suggested but you should ask your accountant. Old taxes go into the shredding box.
Insurance papers should be kept for five years. Medical papers should be kept at until the bill is paid unless you can deduct them. In that case put those in with the 2011 tax folder. Everything not needed shoudl be put in the shredding box.
Now you can shred all the material yourself or hire a home shredding service. After it is shredded add it in with the rest of the recycling. In the case of a shredding service then the recycling will all be handled for you.
A woman in Gallatin, Tennessee found more than just trash when she visited the Sumner County Resource Authority center last week. The dumpster was full of medical records. Not shredding medical records is a clear violation of HIPAA. The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, turned the material over to the Tennessee Department Health Investigator. She found three large garbage bags full of records but it is unclear if that is all that were dumped.
It will be a great day when we don’t have to report on medical practices that treat their patients so poorly. The cost of a medical records shredding service is far less than the class action lawsuit that is allowed under HIPAA. It also keeps private information out of the hands of identity theives. I imagine if given the option these patients would have come back and picked up their records instead of having them left in the trash.
If it is important enough to shred then it is important enough to do securly. That seems like an obvious statment but it is amazing how many people fail to follow it. Sometimes it is as basic as using a strip cut shredder that is easy to piece back together by hand or on a large scale with a computer. It can be having low level employees do the work unsupervised. This is how boxes of documents end up in the trash.
But the one that never ceases to amaze are having convicted criminals do the shredding. The latest one to make the news is in Dallas. Dallas County allowed criminals to do the shredding as part of their community service. Their work allowed them access to everything from medical records to social security cards.
Make sure your shredding is done in a secure manner. Our shredding services use employees who have all passed a background check. The documents go through industrial shredders that don’t require them to be manually fed. This reduces the exposure to any additional eyes. The paper is also shredded to a smaller sized particle than most office shredders.
Congratulations to Titan Mobile Shredding. The Doylestown, Pennsylvannia shredding service has made the list of 100 fastest growing companies in Greater Philadelphia. They came in at number 87. The company began in 2005 and offers mobile shredding in Pennsylvannia and New Jersey.
This is just another data point that business are taking their customers private information more seriously. And a side benefit is all that paper is now being recycled instead of ending up in a landfill.
According to a study by the Ponemon Institute, the healthcare industry is not providing the funding needed to protect patients private data and comply with HITECH. The numbers are not very promising.
The average number of data braches per organization was 4.1. This is a 32% increase over the same survey last year. The number of records exposed in each breach was up 46%. It took 1-2 months to notify patients of the breach. Worst of all was 33% of the respondents to the survey thought the breaches had lead to identity theft.
The sources of the breaches remain the same. Lost and stolen computers and drives. The problem is only going to get worse as doctors move to mobile devices like tablet computers.
So since they know they have a big problem and the increased pressure from the increased HITECH fines then the hospitals must be working very hard to fix the problem. Unfortunetly, that is not the case. Only 29% of respondents believed that data security was a top priority for their organizations.
Until we see some of the HITECH fines actually imposed then many hospitals will ignore the holes in their data security. It is going to be most painful for the first ones they make an example of.
DARPA has announced the winner of their shredding challenge. The contest was set up to see in teams could put shredded paper back together. It was to simulate a situation where shredded paper was recovered by US troops. There were 5 tests with varying sizes of cross-cut shredders.
The winning team was All Your Shreds Are Belong to U.S. The are a team from San Francisco who used software and human assembly. The team now has an extra $50,000 for some holiday shopping. The estimate it took around 600 hours to code the application that solved the problem.
The fundamental problem with cross-cut shredders is that they cut the information but don’t destroy it. A better solution is to tear the paper. This destroys all the information on the edge and would require a great deal more work to reassemble. The good news is that every document shredding service uses this type of machinery.