Paper Shredding can Prevent Corporate Espionage and Business Identity Theft

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Corporate espionage is more widespread than you might think and it doesn’t just effect the big companies but small companies and workers. In 2005, 220 shipments of counterfeit materials were seized by border control agents. This is the equivalent to 4.8 million dollars of merchandise sold retail and a loss of more than 200 million dollars to US businesses. Internationally, it translates approximately to the monetary equivalent of 750,000 jobs[1] annually.


There are many ways in which company secrets can be stolen. High-tech listening and photo devices can be used from 2000 feet away. Computers can be hacked into and email intercepted and corporate spies often try and infiltrate the company from within. According to an article in Businessweek (Joseph Pisani,October 2, 2006), corporations spend $95 billion on corporate security but the bulk of funding is focused on surveillance. Companies often overlook simple cost effective measures such as paper shredding.

Paper shredders are inexpensive security measures and prevent people from rummaging through the trash for valuable secrets and communications. The trash is the easiest place to access undetected for a stranger to the company it is also the least secured place, often not even having a surveillance camera. As a matter of fact, this method has long been successfully used by non-profits and investigative journalists. Trash is free game and it is surprising what companies throw away. Bev Harris, organizer of the nonprofit Black Box Voting, regularly used “dumpster diving” to find countless voting records that the government didn’t want in the public view. Investigative reporters have found billing mistakes, damning memos, and financial records to bring down companies.


In addition, employee records can be found by identity thieves and the information used to open accounts. This is particularly easy to do once the employer is known. Not only will this bring financial hardships to the employee but lawsuits can become costly. According to Reuters  News Wire (January 10, 2008) Sears, Roebuck, and Co. is but the latest in a stream of lawsuits being filed over Identity Theft. There is a $5 million class action lawsuit over there management of information and that amount is likely to grow as the suit builds.

Small business identity theft is also an increasing problem. According to an article in Businessweek (July 23, 2007), “Some studies say there were as many as 8.9 million individual victims of business identity theft nationwide last year, and estimated annual losses approach $50 billion”. Imagine all of your business credit accounts maxed out after all the work you have put in to building your businesses’ good name. Now realize that a simple paper shredder and shredding policy can be an important step in stopping this from happening. Whether you use a  Houston shredding company or buy your own shredder, Be Smart! Don’t throw your reputation out with the trash without protection.

[1]    Sarkar, Dibya, “Customs agents are seizing record amounts of pirated IT hardware.”

      Federal Computer Week. May 8, 2006