It’s 9 o’clock Houston. Do you know where your documents are?

Document Destruction, Houston No Comments

 

The start of a new year brings new resolutions.  What better time to address information management and secure shredding services in Houston Texas!  Did you know that a recycling program is not the same as a destruction program.  Many of the recyclers will tell their clients that their information will be destroyed during the recycling process.  The question that should be asked is “Where do our documents go after the recycler picks them up?  Who has access to those documents?”  Most people are unaware that recyclers bale white paper perfectly intact and the bales are shipped overseas.  Shipping containers arrive from China packed with goods to be sold in the United States and are returned packed with recycled paper.  Those bales of paper and their contents find their way to Chinese ports.  Scared?  You better be.   Through the years China has been notorious with stealing proprietary information, Identity theft, and the biggest threat these days is cyber attacks.  Think of all the back doors that a team of hackers could discover into your network from discarded printed emails.  It’s happening thousands of times a day.  So as we embark on the New Year, be smart and let a Houston Shredding services company help you protect yourself, your company, and your clients.

Dallas county allows criminals to shred confidential documents

Document Destruction No Comments

DALLAS — Dallas County’s little-known community service program which lets convicted criminals sort and then shred confidential documents and personal information has come to an end after News 8 questioned the practice.
For more than a decade, parolees and probationers had been working off community service hours by destroying thousands of sensitive documents — including psychiatric exams of juveniles, copies of Social Security cards, birth certificates, court records, drug tests, and even medical records.
Many were clearly stamped “CONFIDENTIAL.”
One document reviewed by News 8 reads: “CONFIDENTIAL AND PRIVILEGED: This report is provided for your use ONLY. It should not be revealed to any person whatsoever — not even to the person(s) to whom it relates without the authorization of the court.”
Dallas County has ordered all of these documents to be destroyed, in keeping with its records retention policy. But neither the public nor many high-ranking county officials were aware that convicted criminals were handling the information.
At the minimum, this practice raises concerns of information security and identity theft. But experts said the county could face more serious scrutiny.
“This is serious,” said Matthew Yarbrough, a Dallas attorney who’s also a former federal prosecutor. “This is the sort of behavior or business process — even by the county — that is unacceptable.”
Dallas County could be liable, Yarbrough said, if anyone misuses the information.
Plus, having criminals handle medical records could mean Dallas County is violating federal privacy rights for medical records, known as HIPAA, Yarbrough added.
“Any convicted felon handling your personal patient information should be something that gives you pause,” he said.
Criminals have shred sensitive documents almost daily for the past decade at a run-down warehouse in the 4800 block of Harry Hines Boulevard.
The Community Service and Corrections Department, which organizes document destruction, goes through more than a half-million pounds of paper each year, the county revealed.
Who started the practice and why criminals were allowed to be around sensitive data remains uncertain.
“I just can’t believe that this has been going on,” said Dallas County Commissioner Maurine Dickey. She said the county should hire a professional shredding service.
“By not disposing these documents in an acceptable way brings a great deal of exposure to the county,” Dickey said.
Dallas County pointed out that the probationers and parolees are supervised whenever they are around the personal information, and no issue has ever arisen until one probationer recently smuggled out at least a dozen documents to expose the problem.
In addition to showing the information to News 8, the documents were also turned over to the district attorney’s office.
Days after News 8 started asking questions and brought this to light, County Judge Clay Jenkins took action and stopped the practice of criminals from putting their hands on such sensitive information.
“It’s important we protect the confidential data the people entrust the government with. Period. And we need to make sure we get that done right,” Judge Jenkins said.
He said he ordered an immediate review of the practice to determine how to protect this information in the future.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com