Guest Blog ~ Shredding Documents

Today we have a guest blog post to share with you from Chris at http://www.shreddingmachines.co.uk/

My parents and I were recently talking about ID theft and shredding over dinner. My father’s company purchased a Cross-cut Office Shredder from ShreddingMachines.co.uk to shred all sensitive information on site. This sensitive information includes corporate information such as invoices and pre-printed company letter paper but also the personnel files of his employees.

My mother works in the HR department for a much larger company so a vast majority of the documents that needed to be shredded relate to individuals who work at the company. This includes their names, addresses, home telephone numbers, bank account details and many other pieces of information that you wouldn’t want to fall into the wrong hands. I asked how this information was shredded and expected one of 3 answers:

1. Each member of staff has their own personalised shredder
2. There was a large centralised shredder for each department
3. A specialist company comes and does the shredding for them on site

The actual answer left me stunned. They got another company to shred all of her documents FOR FREE! They put all of the documents that need to be shredded into bags and then these are left in a room for the company to collect. The company would arrive every Friday to collect the bags and take them away with them.

I asked why the company didn’t charge any money for this service and was told that it was because they make their money from selling the paper. I asked how she knew that the paper had been shredded and she very proudly told me that they received a certificate through the post a few weeks later confirming that the paper had been shredded!

I could not believe what I was hearing. Sensitive information is left for over a week in bags marked “to be shredded” and are then collected by a company who makes money from the contents of these bags.

There are two problems that I can see:

1. Imagine someone broke into the property overnight and saw these bags. It wouldn’t take a genius to realise that bags marked “to be shredded” contained sensitive and potentially valuable information.
2. What is to stop the company who collects these bags from selling them to someone else and then providing you with a false certificate?

That is not to say that this particular company acts in this way. I have no idea of their name and they may be the most ethical company in the World. However why take the chance? If they could collect the paper and get $5,000 for the recycled value or sell the information for $20,000 then unfortunately there are some members of society that would choose the latter.

Do you know what happens at your company? In the UK companies must comply to the Data Protection Act. The important part is the 7th Principal that states that “Appropriate technical and organizational measures shall be taken against unauthorized or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of or damage to personal data”. This is clearly not the case if your information is taken off site. In the US there is no equivalent legislation, however companies are encouraged to self regulate this to ensure that data does not fall into the wrong hands.

This has hopefully made you think about what your company’s shredding policy is.
IT IS OKAY TO ASK!!

It is your personal information that could be at risk and it is your identity that could be stolen so you are allowed to know what the process is. All companies should have a shredding policy in place. If they don’t then why don’t you put yourself in charge of creating one? If your Company has their information shredded off-site then show them this article and see if you can get them to change how they do things.
The golden rule applies in this case as it does with most things in life. If something sounds too good to be true then it usually is!

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The benefits of using Cross Cut Shredders

Today we have a guest blog post to share with you from Chris at http://www.shreddingmachines.co.uk/


The benefits of using Cross Cut Shredders 

Identity Theft is a buzz word in today’s World with endless mailings and adverts telling you to shred sensitive information that you don’t need (remembering to keep documents required by the tax man) and to take out an ID Theft insurance policy. Doing these, they lead you to believe, will protect you from ID Theft and let you lead a happy scam-free life.

However what they don’t tell you is that not all shredders will keep your information secure. When purchasing a shredder you need to choose between a “Strip” or “Cross” cut model. Strip Cut (or Ribbon Cut) models shred your documents into long strips of a certain width (depending on the model). If someone had the time and patience they could piece together your document and read the contents. Cross Cut (or Confetti/Particle/Crypto Cut) models shred your documents both length and widthways leaving you with small particles that look like confetti. Depending on the security level of the machine you could end up with between 300 and 1500 tiny pieces of confetti from each piece of paper that you shred. This makes the final information much harder to piece together for a potential criminal. Can you imagine trying to join together pieces of confetti only a few millimetres in width and length to recreate a document, particularly if that document has been shredded along with others?

Any shredder owners out there will tell you how annoying it is to constantly empty the bin of your shredder. Fortunately Cross Cut shredders will cause the shredded waste to compact into the waste bin more than Strip Cut models meaning that the bin has to be emptied less frequently. This all seems to mean that Cross Cut shredders are the best thing since sliced bread, however, as with everything; they do have some disadvantages as well.

The first of these (and probably the most important) is that due to higher manufacturing costs, these machines are usually more expensive than the equivalent strip cut models and in some cases can be over double the price. Another drawback is that the higher the security level of the machine (and therefore the more shredded pieces you get from each piece of paper), the fewer sheets can be shredded at one time. An office level Strip Cut machine may be able to handle 30 sheets at once, but an equivalent Cross Cut model may only be able to handle half as many, meaning more time spent standing at the shredder and less time doing something constructive!

Unfortunately the downsides don’t end there. Due to the special nature of their cutting blades, Cross Cut shredders need to be oiled with special lubrication oil on a regular basis to prevent the machine from jamming or shredding even fewer sheets per pass. A busy office would find it necessary to oil at the start of every day, although occasional home users can get away with only doing so once every month. The final downside can be found out by trying to empty a Cross Cut shredder into an outside bin whilst it’s windy outside. Having done this myself I can confirm that the result is a disaster! Waste sacks can also be purchased but this will further increase the cost.

Fortunately there is help with these costs as UK users can visit ShreddingMachines.co.uk where you will find various special offers that give you Free Shredder Oil and Free Waste Sacks (on certain models) so that the cost of switching to a Cross Cut shredder is reduced. They have some of the lowest prices in the UK around and a unique Shredder Wizard will help narrow down the machine that would meet your individual needs.

Non-uk users looking to buy a shredder could check out the wizard to choose your model (as most models are available across the world) then do some research in your home country to find the best price.