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Monday, Jan. 23, 2017

Preserving your identity is not just someone else's responsibility

Posted Monday, October 12, 2009, at 9:03 AM

Some of you know that I have been busy with a new direction of our business these past six months. In the process of my learning process, I keep running across things that point out the constant and growing threat of identity theft, so I thought I would post a few things from time to time. These are a few excerpts but you can read the whole article at http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local-bea...

Basically a landlord had to take back his building after the company he was renting to went out of business. "left behind: was 46 boxes, containing personal information for about 2,000 clients".

Tookoian fingered through the boxes, bearing Social Security numbers, copies of checks, bank information, credit reports, even thumbprints."

This particular landlord did the right thing in safely storing, then destroying the records, but how many personal records of this type are being left behind daily? If you store things at a storage unit, think twice before you just abandon them. If you are responsible for other people records, and have to go out of business, PLEASE do one last task and properly dispose of those records.

Destruction can be burning, or shredding, but if you shred, don't put them in a bag and place it on the street for disposal. A bag full of shredded paper from the same place is like telling identity thieves where to get the "good stuff". AND, once it is thrown away, even if it is on your curb, the courts will say it is fair game for anyone to pick up.

So what will they do with shredded documents? Put it back together! Seriously, there are companies and software that specialize in scanning shredded paper, then use software to stitch it back together. I won't publicize them here, and they probably would not handle a bag of street trash from an unknown person, but now that the software is available, the criminals are using it more and more.

Spread your shredded material between bags, or with other shredded paper. If you take it to a recycler, ask to spread it among their other product. I joke that they can't get much from me if I don't have it, but they don't know that AND they can wreak havoc on your credit and personal reputation in the process.

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That's one of the reasons that I go ahead and shred ALL of our junkmail, there's so much mixed in that anyone would have to sift through a ton of political trash and deals from car lots in order to get anything. Then again, we're saving this for burning anyway so they would also have to sift through the ashes of fallen limbs.

On a side note, does anyone know what would make a good, non-toxic bonding agent for shredded paper to compress it into bricks for burning? I've looked online and haven't found anything yet.

-- Posted by Thom on Tue, Oct 13, 2009, at 11:28 AM

Ok, Steve, now I have to start a new blog on what to do with the shredded paper so that I don't hijack your information security blog with my inane ramblings.

-- Posted by Thom on Tue, Oct 13, 2009, at 12:04 PM

People can use your info to steal your identity from almost anything. Mine has been stolen twice. Once by a family member. And the second time was from a restaurant that I worked at, gave my SSN to someone who didn't have one so they could work there.

So, your information can be stolen from people you know and don't know.

-- Posted by PrpleHze on Tue, Oct 13, 2009, at 4:40 PM

"gave my SSN to someone who didn't have one so they could work there."

I'm not real big on suing over just anything, but THAT certainly seems like something that I would have taken them to the cleaners over.

-- Posted by Thom on Tue, Oct 13, 2009, at 4:54 PM

It took about 6 months to finally get the company to stopping using my SSN after I found out. I didn't find out until 2 years after I had quit the job. I filed a complaint with the FCC (I think or some company like that), along with the PD of Bedford and the county where the crime took place. I was told that I couldn't press criminal charges against the woman who had my SSN, because she didn't actually steal it. As for the big business, I couldn't find an attorney who would stand up to them. So, I couldn't go after them legally.

-- Posted by PrpleHze on Tue, Oct 13, 2009, at 6:19 PM

I would think an attorney would see dollar signs in that, especially if the restaurant gave the number to the woman.

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Oct 13, 2009, at 9:06 PM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.