The Somerset Pennsylvania county commissioners have voted to finance a shredding operation. The county will pay $196,479 for Bedford-Somerset Mental Health to buy equipment.
This grant will allow the agency to set up a shredding service. To provide the labor they will pay below market wages to retarded employees. The money saved can then be used to pay above market salaries to the directors of Bedford-Somerset Mental Health. The beauty for the directors is they don’t even have to supply the capital they need for their scheme.
It is never wise for the government to pick a winner in the market. By using tax payer money the county commissioners are changing the market and driving others out of business. A shredding company provides decent wages to drivers that allow them to raise families. The employees can then buy homes and pay property taxes and salary taxes.
No company can compete with the pittance that the mentally retarded get paid. They organizations hide behind the veil of being a non-profit but are really a tool for managers to enrich themselves by taking home any profits as salary. So they are removing a source or revenue and replacing it with a drain on the counties resources.
If Bedford-Somerset Mental Health has a better model for a shredding company then let them compete in the free market. They should pay their employees at least the minimum wage. If what they offer is better then they will be rewarded and everyone will benefit. If they can only exist by taking in grants then the money would be better spent just giving the assistance directly to the people who need it. The money spent lining the pockets of the directors would not be passed along to the tax payers. Using tax dollars and putting some people out of business to support the ones who support the politicians always ends in a loose-loose model.
When we mention that we are a shredding service most people immediately think of paper. While that is a majority of what we shred that is not all we shred. The beauty of having an industrial shredder is having the ability to shred almost anything. Here are just some things that we destroy for businesses and governments.
After a computer is retired there is still a tremendous amount of data on the hard drive. There are applications that wipe data from the drive but they can be slow when working with a whole office and it is impossible to know if it worked as advertised. Many businesses opt for physical destruction. The hard drive is shredded and then the pieces melted down. It is easy to see that the data can not be removed for a pile of hard drive bits.
Along with hard drives there is data stored on almost every device. Don’t forget to destroy all the information stored on cell phones and copy machines to just name two. These can also be shredded.
Uniforms / Badges
Uniforms are a sign of authority. When in the wrong hands they can harm a brand and put people in danger. The good news is that the rumors of the stolen UPS uniforms is just an urban legend but it is a believable scenario for someone with nefarious motives. It is even worse if the uniforms are for police or fire fighters.
All those uniforms can be shredded and the fiber recycled. At worst it won’t be used to commit crimes and at best can’t even be used to damage your brand.
It usually doesn’t make sense to send defective products back to the manufacturer. But if not properly destroyed then they will be dug out of the dumpster for resale or brought back in for another refund (yes, we have seen this happen). By shredding the product it is off the secondary market forever.
Black Market Products
Everyday people are trying to sneak black market products into the United States. When they are discovered they must be destroyed. In these cases we are shredding whole shipping containers full. This can be anything from cigarettes to computer software disks. It all ends up as pieces and we where possible we recycle the raw materials. This is usually easier the larger the volume but with expensive components like electronics it can be done with smaller volumes.
Summer Stastny worked at the Dairy Queen in Omaha, Nebraska. Before leaving she noticed the store was planning on throwing out their old payroll records. Stastny said she notified owners that they needed to shred the documents since they contained personal information and social security numbers. FACTA requires shredding for all exactly this type of records.
Since leaving her position at the Dairy Queen, Stastny has been checking the dumpster to make sure her information had not been thrown away. Her worst fears came true last Wednesday. In the dumpster were all the employment records that they had failed to shred. She notified the police and KETV news. The location blamed new ownership as the problem.
I don’t know if the Stastny left the Dairy Queen on her own terms but it does offer a reason why she was looking in the stores dumpster. Disgruntled employees are always looking to get a measure of revenge against the company. Poor document destruction policies and practices offer exactly what they are looking for. It may be customer lists they can take to a new company or the ability to generate negative PR and fines as with this case.
Every business has ex-employees. Some leave on their own accord and others leave from more negative circumstances. Since it is impossible to hire only the right people and never have employee issues, every business needs to have a document destruction policy in place.
Sometimes the disgruntled employee is still with the business. If they are responsible for shredding then they may intentionally fail do to their job for leverage against the business. This is whom lawyers and detectives will search out to target the business.
The way to safeguard the information and reputation of a business is with a secure shredding service. The work is done correctly and documentation provided. And every employee will be happy to not waste time at a shredder doing the work themselves.
Recall , a subsidiary of Australia’s Brambles Ltd is still on the sales block but for how long is not clear. Rueters is reporting that the company is in serious talks with Shred-it. There have been discussions with Birch Hill Equity Partners, the owners of Shred-it, with banks to finance the deal.
Brambles wants to complete a sale by May and time is running out on that deadline. The process has been slowed as several suitors balked at the $2 billion valuation for Recall. Several private equity firms have dropped out of discussions that were taking place at the first of the year. But Cintas may still be part of the discussion.
Recall offers records storage services and document shredding services in North America. Bramble is interested in divesting several of its divisions to focus on their core business of pallet sales.
The one name that never seems to get mentioned is Iron Mountain. This acquisition would fit into their plans of focusing on hard copy storage. There must not be a good fit between the two organizations. As a public company Iron Mountain should be able to raise the capital needed for the purchase.
The difficulty in purchasing Recall will be to integrate the culture. As Brambles has alternately focused on and left Recall on autopilot they look like they have lacked a clear focus. Better leadership should be able to get a great deal more out of their existing customers and locations.
There are many businesses and organizations that have personal financial information. The first ones that comes to mind are banks, insurance companies, car dealerships, and accountants. They all need your private information to conduct their business. What they have in common is they seem to care about their data in their possession.
I judge that on two pieces of anecdotal evidence. One is that it I rarely hear about these types of businesses with confidential information in the trash. The second is that these types of business correspond to the people whom seem to need record shredding. Correlation is never causation but I have no doubt that some organizations take their responsibilities more seriously. It can’t be function of the law because FACTA requires shredding for every business that handles any information used to obtain credit.
One type of business that seems to make the news often for security problems are gyms. The latest that turned up was LA Fitness in Phoenix, Arizona. Preston Brooker was walking his dog and noticed a dumpster stuffed with the personal information of past customers. Most gyms take credit information to bill customers monthly. The worst part is the gym even collected social security numbers on the form.
Before you give out your financial information to anyone find out how they store the information and how they dispose of it. They should have no problem showing you a locked room with locked file cabinets and explain who has the keys. There should also be some shred bins around the office or a shredding log. The log should be signed by the general manager or have past certificates of destruction.
But anytime you apply for a job or credit you are putting your name
Six months ago it came to light that Dallas was using convicted criminals to handle the shredding of personal documents. The whole idea of having people who have proven that they can’t be trusted reviewing very private information makes no sense. Since Judge Clay Jenkins agreed that this is an unacceptable way to handle sensitive information they must have found a better solution. Perhaps they hired so employees who were background checked or decided to save money and use a shredding service in Dallas.
The problem for Dallas residents is that they have done neither. There is still a temporary ban on inmates shredding but no long term solution is in place. They expect to have an RFP out for shredding soon but it is still a work in progress. I hope it isn’t just the court buying time until the media has moved on to put the inmates back in charge.
Over the years I have seen a number of different businesses expand into shredding. The most common are recycling companies and record storage companies. The recycling company gets involved in shredding because they are interested in the paper fiber after the shredding. Records companies get involved in the shredding industry because there is a great deal of cross-over with customers.
Joe Hirsch took the route of starting with self-storage company and then branched out into shredding. He runs A Safe Keeping in Middle and Lower townships. With more self-storage operators looking to get into records storage then this trend is likely to increase. What surprises me about Hirsch is he operates a mobile shredding truck.
The other rise in shredding is coming from office supply stores. They have bins provided from local contractors. When the bins are full the shred truck comes out and empties them. It is a good solution for the home with a handful of papers to destroy. Larger volumes can get cost prohibitive since there is a cost for the retail front.
Grant Lind is allegedly an identity thief. He is charged with 44 counts for a check counterfeiting scheme. It appears he got his information from dumpster diving in a bin used by Valencia Self Storage in Valencia, California. He then created and cashed counterfeit checks. The value of the scheme is estimated around $16,000.
What is unique to Lind process is that he took bags of shredded paper and put the pices back together. The pieces were found by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department at his home. They were described as two inches long and a quarter-inch wide.
Most security experts advise shredding paper in a cross-cut shredder. They say that is enough to protect your information from identity thieves. But here is an exmple where that isn’t enough. With each check being a unique color I can imagine it was not too many pieces for any particular check.
Not only should the paper be shredded but the shreds should be destroyed. This can be done by spreading the shreds over several loads of trash or putting it in with wet materials.
But there is a much better solution. When paper is recycled it is put in a big vat of water. It can best be described as an industrial sized blender. The ink and imperfections are floated off and what is left is paper pulp. The paper is now absolutely and completely destroyed. The best part is now the paper is re-used instead of ending up in a landfill. And it takes less energy than using virgin wood pulp.
So make sure you shreds are getting recycled. You can take it to the local recycling plant or use a shredding service that not only shreds but recycles. If you don’t have a service then you can find one at Shred Nations.