Mobile Shred Size - The Truth

Mobile Shred Size - The Truth

Nov 7, 2015

Everyone is familiar with the shred size that is produced from a small office shredder.  When those responsible for the office shredding get frustrated with the frequency of jams, slow speed and burning out of the shredder, they often look at a mobile service.

To most, it's logical that if a small officer shredder can shred 10 pages to a small size, a mobile shredder powered by a 200+ horsepower truck will shred 6000 pounds per hour (as advertised by most) to this small size.  If this is true, why do most shredding companies hide the finished product from the customer?  Be very concerned if there are no windows allowing you to see the finished shred in the box of the shred truck. 

Even with a window, I recently had a customer ask to see in the rear of the truck.  I opened the back doors for him to see.  Of course, you'll have to ask before the paper is pushing on the rear doors.  Ask this of your shredding vendor and see what excuses you'll get.  Once you see the size, you'll be able to better determine if your sensitive material could be compromised by the size. 

What size does your shred vendor advertise?  Is it comparable to what you see?  Is it what you expected?  Most vendors advertise "completely shredded", "unreadable" and even "non-decipherable".   What does this mean?  Does the size meet your definition?

Some government agencies and those in the industry define it as "can't be read without the use of heroic or extraordinary measures".   Picking a large piece of paper or whole check from a pile of pierce-and-tear paper does not constitute a heroic or extraordinary measure.  In 2010, a national shredding company filed a federal lawsuit against another shredding company because bank checks were pulled from the pile of paper that was dumped.   

HIPAA guidelines state "for PHI in paper records, shredding, burning, pulping, or pulverizing the records so that PHI is rendered essentially unreadable, indecipherable, and otherwise cannot be reconstructed". 

NCUA's definition is "ensure that paper records containing member information are rendered unreadable". 

The FDIC definition is "information must be rendered unreadable". 

An attorney spokesperson for the financial division of the FTC states that "if your business is using a really big shred size that someone could tape together then that's not reasonable".   She goes on to say that a vendor that "shreds sensitive documents into chunks larger than the size of an envelope window - could be reported to the FTC".  What's your definition of "reasonable"?  If you're using one of these vendors, then your exposure to risk is greatly increased.

The above is referencing the theory of what a reasonable person would think is adequate to protect sensitive material.  If those responsible for doing due diligence looked through the material in the rear of a pierce and tear shred truck, I don't believe they would think the shred size is "reasonable".  The industry knows this and wants to expand the definition to be what someone within the industry thinks is reasonable.  The shredding industry is trying to dictate security standards and doesn't want your opinion of "reasonable".  You'll be the one paying the fines.  After all, protecting customer or patient information is your responsibility.   The most recent figure I've seen is $1000 per record exposed. 

The US Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General stated "most of the shredding companies who work on-site, they have pierce and tear technology which is not good for shredding highly sensitive material.  Pierce and tear type shredders do not adequately get the document into an unreadable state".

Many in the shredding industry, and even some of those using the pierce and tear equipment admit to large pieces and checks being missed by the blades. 

After conducting an investigation of a competitor, the Department of Army recently issued a contract to the pierce-and-tear company because they stated the company wasn't shredding classified material or checks.  REALLY!  Has anyone heard of the "Red Flag Rule"?  This isn't a red flag, it's a signal flare.  

Regardless of what most in the shredding industry (95% using pierce and tear because of increased profits) believe, you can't make an informed decision without all the information. 

The odds are against you.  LOOK IN THE BACK OF THE TRUCK!!!!


Are Ex-Felons Doing Your Shredding?

Are Ex-Felons Doing Your Shredding?

Apr 12, 2015

When federal laws started requiring responsible destruction, numerous start-up companies began offering shredding services. The industry is not regulated. Anyone can buy a shredder and offer service. This is why your due diligence is so important in reducing your exposure to risk. 

Individuals seeking a business start-up and existing businesses looking for new services to offer jumped on this opportunity. Most of these shredding vendors have no experience providing security services. This is why the majority of vendors join an association created by like minded individuals. There is nothing wrong with joining an association, but a membership shouldn't be a vendors sole qualification. A felon with a shredding association membership is still a felon who may have access to your facility and confidential documents. Shredding employees have access to doctors offices; courthouses; banks; clinics; schools, hospitals; law offices; daycare and nursery schools; pharmacies; nursing homes, etc., etc.

A shredding association issues "AAA" certifications to members who meet their qualifications.  The problem is their background check only prevents persons with a felony conviction of theft or burglary from owning or working for a "AAA" certified shredding company.

Let me put this in perspective. I contacted the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and asked how many inmates are incarcerated in the state system. They told me they had approx.43,000 inmates. I then asked how many had a controlling offense of felony theft or burglary. The answer was approx. 3000. This means the remaining 40,000 inmates, if released, could work for a "AAA" certified shredding company.  This is where you let your imagination take over.

Beth Givens of the Privacy Rights Clearing House states the association's "low standards are very troubling. When a trade/professional association sets the bar low, it spells trouble for everyone".

This brings us back to the title of this article.


Banks plus Shred Trucks equals trouble for everyone!

Banks plus Shred Trucks equals trouble for everyone!

Mar 11, 2015

Note - The above checks came from one bale of pierce-and-tear paper.

Remember when you got a thick envelope in the mail from your bank each month containing all your cancelled checks? Did you ever wonder what happens to those checks?

Have you heard of the "Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act or Check 21"? This law took effect on October 28, 2004. Among other things, this law prevents you from getting back your original paper checks. The lifecycle of your checks stops at the bank where they are cashed or deposited. Your identity and checking account is now at the mercy of the bank's due diligence program. The problem: banks don't know or don't want to believe that 95% of all shredding trucks allow whole checks to pass through "UNSHREDDED"! This bears repeating "UNSHREDDED".

The most popular shred truck is known as "pierce-and-tear". To be fair, not all checks get missed by these shredders. However, the design of the shredder allows many checks to fold and pass through the blades, leaving many checks whole or enough of the damaging information in tact.

Your first thought is why would a shredding service purchase a truck that missed checks. The simple answer is, PROFIT! It would take another article to explain this.

Your next thought is why would a bank hire a service that uses this type of shredder. I believe banks do have your best interest at heart and I'm willing give them the benefit-of-the-doubt. The answer is, they're most likely being deceived by the shredding service. Ask your bank how your personal information is being destroyed. Remember, your bank will have no control over checks processed by other banks. This is why credit repairing insurance and monitoring services are so popular.

A bank wants undisputed proof of everything before a transaction in order to protect themselves. The same scrutiny should apply before putting customer accounts at risk. Banks have privacy statements basically stating they do everything possible to protect private information of customers. More questions may need to be asked when selecting a shredding service. The risk is real. Insurance companies didn't create Directors and Officers insurance (D&O) policies for no reason.

Due Diligence includes Shred Size

Due Diligence includes Shred Size

Mar 9, 2015

When federal laws were enacted requiring secure destruction before disposal or recycling, the shredding industry saw an explosion in the number of service providers. The problem is many of these new service providers realized shredding into large pieces increases their profits. Shredding smaller takes more time which increases costs associated with labor, fuel and maintenance.

To distract from the real security issues, many service providers try to dazzle with worthless certifications and their knowledge of the specific wording of all federal laws. The bottom line is, every law requires "unreadable". That's all you need to know. You must make the final decision what shred size is acceptable to you, keeping your liability in mind.

Years have been spent exposing problems with the shredding industry. I've filed federal lawsuits on behalf of the taxpayers and settlements were reached. I filed a federal lawsuit on my behalf and a settlement was reach. A google search will allow you to see these actions and related articles, some which have been written in Spanish and Russian.

I've taken actions that shed light on GSA and Veterans Administration shredding guidelines with thanks for exposing security issues. In fact, for security reasons, the Veterans Administration removed requirements that vendors be a member of a specific trade association. My actions also prompted an investigation into a Department of Army shredding contract that exposed the shred company's non-compliance.

Most importantly, I shred light on the problems associated with the majority of mobile shredding trucks that allow large pieces of paper and whole checks to pass through "unshredded". Customers need to decide for themselves if their security liability concerns are being met. Be sure to do your own due diligence. Your vendor's only claim-to-fame may be a worthless certification. "I placed total trust in my vendor" is not a very good defense if you have an exposure.

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