Protect from Identity Theft

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Protect from Identity theft

Good Luck to Green Bay and Pittsburgh!

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It’s Superbowl time!  Since our Texans will not be making an appearance this year, we wish both teams good luck on their journey.  We here at On-Site Shred are hoping to see some wide receivers shred up some DB’s and hopefully some running backs shred some Mike linebackers.  We love to watch offensives shred things up.  Not to say we do not like good defense either, we love to watch the defense pulverize opposing players.  So until our beloved Texans find their way to the big show, we wish both teams good luck in Superbowl 45!

Document Shredding Prevents Identity Theft

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Identity frauds are the growing concern of the information world today. We are already aware of the different means adopted by identity thieves for tapping into personal information that is sent electronically. However research has shown that identity frauds and business espionage are committed more from the information stolen from traditional paper based documents rather than electronic media. An individual’s credit rating and reputation are compromised, as are those of family members and business associates.

Strict laws are in place to punish identity thieves and law makers use efficient tracking methods to bring offenders to justice. These are always a step too late for the victims. So prevention is not just the best policy but it should be the only policy. Shredding documents helps eliminate this problem. Document shredding ensures that the paper based documents are kept from falling into the wrong hands. Shredded documents are impossible to reattach protecting the information the page contained.

Homes and Businesses alike accumulate document that need to be destroyed due to a number of factors. May be the information has turned outdated or you might have converted to an electronic media for storage or it might just be to make more space. The only safe method of discarding documents is to shred them, be it credit card or phone bills at home or delicate customer information.

Even a noble idea of recycling paper waste might impact your reputation or your business. Crumpling paper to discard, leaves open the sensitive information it contains at the mercy of thieves and competitors alike. Information thieves are not above dumpster diving. Shredded documents can be segregated for recycling instead. This ensures security as the document cannot be pieced together a second time.

Document shredding is not restricted to the print media. It extends to discarded CDs, hard drives, diskettes, DVDs, film, ID badges, X-rays, Binders, credit cards, video tapes and the list is endless. Any number of things that have out lived their use may contain a lot of personal information.

Professional shredding services are available to take on a bulk of work. This enables to save precious time and helps increase employee productivity. A professional service also eliminates time spent on segregating paper from binders. And it is fuss free and takes care of the hassle of dedicating valuable employee time. Most services offer onsite shredding that enable you to witness firsthand that your documents are indeed destroyed.

With importance of protecting private information and client interests being foremost in our minds shredding has come as an answer to a disturbing problem.

Benefits of Paper Recycling

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There have been various debates about the uses of paper recycling and the affect of the same on the environment. These include both upstream reasons like the raw materials and their possession and the downstream methods like the disposal of wastes and their impacts. But the process of paper recycling does help to reduce this impact.

 

Since 90% of the paper made today is made from wood it does have its impact on the environment. The production of paper is also one of the major reasons for the felling of the trees. It is also a contributor to the worlds economic output. The process of recycling of the news prints helps to save about 1 ton of wood through recycling. The use of printing or copier paper for recycling saved about 2 tons of wood. This happens because the process of Kraft pulping requires about twice the amount of wood. This removes the lignin which produces better quality fibers as compared to the process of mechanical pulping. The process of relating tons of papers recycled to the felling trees are not meaningless. The size of the trees also varies tremendously and is also the major factor for determining the amount of paper which can be made from a specified number of trees. There are trees which are specifically raised for their pulp production. Most of the pulp production operators ensure reforestation for continuous supply of trees.

 

The consumption of energy is reduced is also reduced through paper recycling. The pulp mills produce mechanical energy which is used in large amounts. But there are arguments on the same because the consumption of more electricity is the burning of fossil fuels. The recycling of paper also helps in landfill use. The amount taken for all organic material to be disposed on grounds would be huge but through recycling paper a lot of land space can be saved. Recycling paper also helps in reducing the amount of water and air pollution. The recycling of paper reduces the demand for virgin paper, which helps in reduction of felling of trees.

 

Hence the options for recycling paper helps in the overall reduction of falling of trees, helps the environment in various other ways and also reduces the risks of various other issues of the environment. Every bit of paper that is given for recycling can help in protecting the environment and conserving it also.

Missing Hearts Foundation

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I had the opportunity/pleasure of working with the good people at Missing Hearts Foundation this past weekend.  They kicked off their first registration event in Katy.  Missing Hearts Foundation is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping law enforcement agencies and families in locating and returning missing children.  In the United States alone, 2,100 children go missing each day.  Their program works by creating a network of information sharing.  If a child goes missing, a report can be filled out on the their website which will be cross checked with identity verification scans from daycare centers, hospitals, schools, and other reporting agencies. 

Missing Hearts travels nationwide registering children into their database.  They create a personalized report that includes a digital scan of all ten fingerprints, child’s legal name, DOB, and the last four digits of their social security number.  They offer this service at no charge.  They accomplish this by working with Noctress Inc.  Noctress Inc is a company that is dedicated to protecting individuals from Identity theft.  Noctress is an independent, single source, real time biometric identity verification system.  They can verify an individual anywhere on the planet where an Internet connection can be made.  It is through their strategic alliance with Missing Hearts Foundation that children can be located in real time.

Missing Hearts Foundation does not receive any funding from the government.  They rely on contributions from the general public.  Contributions made to Missing Hearts Foundation are tax deductible.  Your contribution allows the good people of Missing Hearts to host registration programs around the country.  If you would like to make a contribution it can be sent to:

Missing Hearts Foundation

P.O. Box 6493

Katy, Texas 77491-6493

Again, your contribution is tax deductible and it’s for a really great program.  Every little bit helps, I’m sure they would be very thankful for any contribution you could make.

Identity Theft and Home Equity

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As if we don’t have enough to worry about, now we have to worry about people digging through our garbage.  The Identity Theft Assistance Center has a new report identifying people with large amounts of home equity are becoming increasing targets.  Home equity lines of credit is very appealing to these criminals because of the reserves.  Home owners need to be diligent and check their accounts on a regular basis to ensure no tampering has occurred.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released their annual mortgage fraud report in April.  In the report, home equity mortgage credit fraud is cited as an “emerging scheme” in the battled real estate and mortgage markets.  Identity Theft criminals have long targeted people with poor credit.  This practice came about with the emergence of the “sub-prime” market.  If you are not familiar with the sub-prime market, it was basically a way for people who could not afford loans obtain loans.  It required very little identification which made it a prime target of identity thieves. 

Now that the lenders have seen the errors in their ways and tightened up their requirements, Identity theft thieves are looking for new avenues.  These new avenues require going after people with good credit.  Home equity loans are attractive because they are as easy to open up as a credit card account.  All they need is a little bit of financial information.  And where do they find it?  You got it…..right there in your garbage can.

How this usually goes down……. thieves will pose as home owners online and request home equity accounts.  After the account is opened,  they will send a fax to the bank requesting a wire transfer.  The bank unknowingly calls the crooks to verify the transfer.  And in a blink of an eye the money is out of the account.

We are seeing a lot more requests from home owners requesting to be set-up on a quarterly schedule.  We provide free security containers where you can drop your junk mail and all your other paper work to be picked up for on-site paper shredding.  This service starts as low as fifty dollars per visit.  People often overlook paper shredding and take an attitude of “it won’t happen to me”.  Mobile document shredding takes about ten minutes to set up and we work to your schedule.  Give us a call and see why we are the fastest growing paper shredding company in Houston.

Protecting Consumers’ Personal Data

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From the Texas Attorney General’s website…..

New Texas laws underscore the need for businesses to be extremely careful when handling and disposing of their customers’ personal information. Simply exposing the information to the risk of identity theft carries some hefty penalties, irrespective of whether the information ended in the wrong hands.

Some of the most common ways in which businesses mishandle sensitive information is by failing to shred receipts and other documents with customers’ personal data before throwing them into the trash. Several large companies which have improperly disposed of records with information such as credit card and Social Security numbers faced swift legal action by the Attorney General. Our investigators conduct routine spot-checks around the state as part of ongoing enforcement efforts. This office also investigates other types of neglect by businesses, such as improperly safeguarded databases or Web pages through which consumers submit personal information.

Penalties against businesses who violate Texas’ identity theft provisions are substantial. For example, New provisions of Chapter 35 of the Business and Commerce Code require businesses to develop retention and disposal procedures for their clients’ personal information. The law provides for fines of up to $500 for each record that could potentially land in the wrong hands. And the new Identity Theft Enforcement Act could mean fines of up to $50,000 for each similar violation – even for a single record. Additionally, businesses that give consumers specific reassurances about how their privacy will be protected could face penalties of up to $20,000 per violation if they fail to live up to those promises.

The reason for these strict new laws is clear: They help protect millions of Texans from becoming the next victims of identity theft. The laws also help safeguard the business community at large, which is facing mounting losses as a result of identity theft.

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the country. According to federal statistics, more than 20,000 Texas families file identity theft complaints each year – and that number simply reflects those who are aware they are victims. For many consumers, it takes months or even years to discover they have been victimized, and by that point the harm against them is substantial. Nationally, it is believed that identity theft drains at least $50 billion from our economy – most of it attributed to losses businesses must absorb when identity thieves run up huge lines of credit and make other purchases under the name of their victims.

For consumers, becoming the victim of identity theft is an emotional nightmare. They often face countless hours filing police reports and communicating with merchants, credit card companies and credit bureaus to clear up their name. They must often defer important plans, such as purchasing a home or new car, and will find it exceedingly difficult to obtain lines of credit for months or even years.

Businesses are hit hard, too. With just a few pieces of a consumers’ personal information some criminals have been able to secure high-limit credit cards and even buy cars or homes under their victims’ names. Not only does this hurt the bottom line of the business community at large, but could ruin a small business if it extends large lines of credit to even a single identity thief.

Businesses understandably want to know what they can do to help prevent identity theft. Since a business’ size and the types of data it handles can vary widely, each business should carefully review its practices and put in place necessary measures that will prevent clients’ personal information from ending up in the wrong hands.

The following are some of the types of client information most susceptible to being mishandled or improperly discarded by businesses:

  • Credit and debit card numbers
  • Social Security numbers
  • Bank account information
  • Mother’s maiden names
  • Passwords
  • Dates of birth
  • Account numbers within the business (i.e. membership number)

This information commonly appears in the following paper documents and electronic files:

  • Receipts
  • Refund forms
  • Credit and employment applications
  • Bank statements
  • Checks / money orders
  • IRS-related documents
  • Personnel files
  • Medical records
  • Sweepstakes entry forms
  • Email / Hard copy correspondence
  • Disks, magnetic tape, and all other data storage devices
  • Discarded computers

It’s important to note that Texas law does not take the age of the documents or information in question into account. For example, even if a credit card slip improperly thrown into the trash shows the number of an expired card, the business could still be liable under the law. Some businesses sued by the Attorney General erroneously thought that by purging documents that were many years old there was no risk to consumers. But when those files were shown to reveal full Social Security numbers, which are assigned for the life, it is clear that even “old” files can create new harm. Likewise, expired credit cards are often reissued under the same number, but with a different expiration date that an identity thief can figure out quickly through trial and error.

Each business should develop a thorough list of all the types of information it handles, who handles it, where that information is maintained and how it is disposed of when it is no longer needed. There should be clear written protocols about how to properly handle that information and how to dispose of it, which could mean:

Shredding applicable paper documents Permanently deleting electronic files Properly destroying / wiping old computers and data storage devices

Businesses should be particularly careful when disposing of storage devices and old computers. Simply hitting the “delete” button seldom erases data from a disk or hard drive permanently – savvy identity thieves can easily retrieve that information. Businesses should rely on their internal computer experts or consult with an outside vendor to explain proper permanent deletion of electronic files. It might be necessary to ask the vendor to professionally “wipe” or remove and destroy a hard drive before getting rid of an old computer or server.

Similarly, businesses that obtain consumers’ personal information through Web sites, such as accepting credit cards to purchase goods and services, should be especially careful that those pages are properly safeguarded. Because of the constantly changing nature of the Internet and the tactics used by hackers, it’s a good idea for businesses to review and update security measures for their Web sites and internal systems on a regular basis.

Businesses should constantly remind their employees and new hires about proper handling of their customers’ personal information. For example:

Restaurant waitstaff should be instructed to keep their eyes on customers’ credit cards and related receipts at all times, and not let these linger on an unattended table or bar.

Employees working for businesses that send this type of data electronically to colleagues should be reminded to double-check recipient’s address before clicking “send” on an email, to make sure they are not unintentionally sending sensitive information to the wrong people.

The threat of identity theft should be particularly impressed upon employees who travel with laptops, ensuring that the computers and disks are secure at all times, and any theft or other suspected breach should be immediately reported to management.

All businesses handling hard copies with any information that could be useful to an identity thief should keep those discarded documents in a safe place and shred them before throwing them into a publically accessible dumpster.

If in doubt, shred it. It’s going into the trash anyway.

It is also a good idea to send periodic reminders to employees, such as through email, newsletters, and clearly displayed signs. For example, some businesses that faced legal action from the Attorney General for improper document disposal agreed to send protocol reminders to all employees by periodically including corresponding notes in their paychecks.

The scenarios through which consumers’ information could end up in the wrong hands are clearly limitless, and the above are simply some examples and common-sense suggestions. Each business should develop procedures according to their size and type of information handled, and update those protocols the moment they realize new ways in which their customer’s sensitive data could fall into the wrong hands. Employees should therefore be encouraged to immediately alert management whenever they come across a situation that could put this information at risk.

The Office of the Attorney General encourages all Texans, individual consumers and businesses alike, to contact us if they discover a business that is not taking proper care of their clients’ information by calling us at 1-800-252-8011.

 

Shredding Katy

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Shred Old Documents At Tradition Bank

Proceeds From Shredding Event to Benefit D.A.R.E.

Katy, TX – March 17, 2008 – Tradition Bank’s Grand Parkway location will host a document shredding event Saturday, April 19 from 9 a.m. to noon in support of D.A.R.E.
Documents will be shredded in the bank’s parking lot at 1515 S. Grand Parkway for a $5 donation per box. Residents are asked to place old documents for shredding in a banker’s box. Staples, paper clips and binder clips need not be removed from the documents. Plastic binders are not accepted. Assistance will be available at the event to help unload heavy boxes.

Established in 1983, D.A.R.E. has spread into 75 percent of U.S. school districts and more than 43 countries. The program consists of a police-officer led series of classroom lessons designed to educate children about the dangers of drugs and the importance of resisting peer pressure. Officers teaching D.A.R.E. classes receive 80 hours of training in child development, classroom management, communication skills and teaching techniques, and 40 hours of additional training to teach the high school curriculum.

Tradition Bank is locally owned and operated and has been serving Houston and its surrounding communities since 1963. With seven convenient, full-service banking centers, Tradition Bank offers a wide variety of state-of-the-art services and financial products to both individuals and businesses. Tradition Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and a Member of the FDIC. For more information, please visit our Web site at www.traditionbank.com or contact us at 713.666.2511.

Shredding to Protect Consumers

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Select Medical to face charges….

It looks like the Texas Attorney General has started 2008 the way he ended 2007; prosecuting companies who fail to protect consumer’s information. Select Medical is the latest company to feel the wrath of the Texas Attorney General’s office. Select Medical is being charged with violating the State’s Identity Theft Protection Act of 2005. Thousands of documents were allegedly improperly discarded last October in Levelland Texas. The police department in Levelland discovered the documents strewn in and about dumpsters on the premises; if found guilty, Select Medical will face millions in fines. I’m always surprised to find many business owners do not know that there are actual laws on the books as to how they must dispose of business records. The following is taken from the Texas Business & Commerce Code pertaining to the disposal of Business Records (Chapter 35 and Chapter 48).

CHAPTER 35

§ 35.48. RETENTION AND DISPOSAL OF BUSINESS RECORDS.

(a)In this section:

(1)”Business record” means letters, words, sounds, or

numbers, or the equivalent of letters, words, sounds, or numbers,

recorded in the operation of a business by:

  • (A)handwriting;
  • (B)typewriting;
  • (C)printing;
  • (D)photostat;
  • (E)photograph;
  • (F)magnetic impulse;
  • (G)mechanical or electronic recording;
  • (H)digitized optical image;or
  • (I)another form of data compilation.

(1-a)”Personal identifying information” means an individual’s first name or initial and last name in combination with any one or more of the following items:

  • (A)date of birth;
  • (B)social security number or other government-issued identification number;
  • (C)mother’s maiden name;
  • (D)unique biometric data, including the individual’s fingerprint, voice print, and retina or iris image;
  • (E)unique electronic identification number, address, or routing code;
  • (F)telecommunication access device, including debit and credit card information; or
  • (G)financial institution account number or any other financial information.

(2)”Reproduction” means a counterpart of an original business record produced by:

  • (A)production from the same impression or the same matrix as the original;
  • (B)photograph, including an enlargement or miniature;
  • (C)mechanical or electronic rerecording;
  • (D)chemical reproduction;
  • (E)digitized optical image;or
  • (F)another technique that accurately reproduces the original.

(3)”Telecommunication access device” has the meaning

assigned by Section 32.51, Penal Code.

  • (b)A business record required to be kept by state law may be destroyed at any time after the third anniversary of the date the record was created unless a law or regulation applicable to the business record prescribes a different retention period or procedure for disposal.
  • (c)A state law requiring retention of a business record is satisfied by retention of a reproduction of the business record.
  • (d)When a business disposes of a business record that contains personal identifying information of a customer of the business, the business shall modify, by shredding, erasing, or other means, the personal identifying information to make it unreadable or undecipherable.
  • (e)A business is considered to comply with Subsection (d) if the business contracts with a person engaged in the business of disposing of records for the modification of personal identifying information on behalf of the business in accordance with Subsection (d).
  • (f)A business that does not dispose of a business record of a customer in the manner required by Subsection (d) is liable for a civil penalty of up to $500 for each record. The attorney general may bring an action against the business to:
    • (1)recover the civil penalty;
    • (2)obtain any other remedy, including injunctive relief; and
    • (3)recover costs and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in bringing the action.
  • (g)A business that modifies a record as required by Subsection (d) in good faith is not liable for a civil penalty under Subsection (f) if the record is reconstructed, in whole or in part, through extraordinary means.
  • (h)Subsection (d) does not require a business to modify a record if:

(1) the business is required to retain the record

under other law; or

(2) the record is historically significant and:

(A) there is no potential for identity theft or

fraud while the record is in the custody of the business; or

(B) the record is transferred to a professionally

managed historical repository.

(i) Subsection (d) does not apply to:

(1) a financial institution as defined by 15 U.S.C.

Section 6809; or

(2) a covered entity as defined by Section 601.001 or

602.001, Insurance Code.

Added by Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 955, § 1, eff. June 15, 1989.

Renumbered from § 35.47 by Acts 1990, 71st Leg., 6th C.S., ch.

12, § 2(2), eff. Sept. 6, 1990.Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg.,

ch. 472, § 1, eff. Aug. 26, 1991;Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 735,

§ 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 935, § 1, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 935, § 2, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 935, § 3, eff. September 1, 2005.

Text of section effective until April 1, 2009

CHAPTER 48

48.102.BUSINESS DUTY TO PROTECT AND SAFEGUARD 
SENSITIVE PERSONAL INFORMATION.(a)A business shall implement 
and maintain reasonable procedures, including taking any 
appropriate corrective action, to protect and safeguard from 
unlawful use or disclosure any sensitive personal information 
collected or maintained by the business in the regular course of 
business.
        (b)A business shall destroy or arrange for the destruction 
of customer records containing sensitive personal information 
within the business's custody or control that are not to be retained 
by the business by:
(1)shredding;
(2)erasing; or
(3)otherwise modifying the sensitive personal 
information in the records to make the information unreadable or 
undecipherable through any means.
        (c)This section does not apply to a financial institution 
as defined by 15 U.S.C. Section 6809.
 
Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 294, § 2, eff. September 1, 
2005.
 
Text of section effective until April 1, 2009
 
Source - Texas Business & Commerce Code