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Spring Has Sprung…

By: Susan Tossy, Operations Manager
Santa Cruz Records Management
Secure Document Storage & Confidential Shredding

It's here already. Spring has sprung and summer is hot on its heels. We made it through the flurry of tax time and here we are peaking over the mountains of rubble left in its wake. Time for some spring cleaning, both at home and at the office. It seems that when the sun pops through the clouds we all wake up from our winter stupor and realize that there is work to be done.

After the rains cleared we were happy to see a steady stream of bright eyed, rejuvenated people coming through our doors ready to purge the debris accumulated through the winter months. Our office was no exception, like a whirling dervish we left no nook or cranny untouched; the result was the typical mound of old notes and outdated paperwork.

Never fear, it was gone in mere minutes. The beauty of commercial shredding. The good news is that we can do the same for you: fast and affordable document shredding. We will also shred, destroy and recycle your discs, cd's, x-ray films and computer media.

The Good News - A One Day Discount:
We have scheduled our first ever "Spring Clean Out" day on June 17th, just in time for summer. We will be starting at 9:00 a.m., running until 4:00 p.m. We are waiving the service fee and shredding at a straight .20 cents per lb with no minimum. Time to get you're your space(s) cleaned out and turn your attention towards summer fun.





Back By Popular Demand…

By: Susan Tossy, Operations Manager
Santa Cruz Records Management
Secure Document Storage & Confidential Shredding

The first annual Shred-A-Thon put on by NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) was a huge success! For one day in January, shredders across the Bay Area provided free shredding to the public. We volunteered for the Santa Cruz County area. NAPO members set up a tent in the parking lot of Staples in Santa Cruz; complete with educational info about identity theft prevention, organization info and free snacks. Over 150 people brought boxes of material to be destroyed. We took in and shredded over 4 tons of paper in 1 day!

While working the Shred-A-Thon, I talked to a number of people who were concerned about identity theft. I provided them with hand outs and web sites to assist them with every thing from clearing their credit to accessing their free annual credit report. So back by popular demand, I am posting links to the web sites that I recommend the most. The Privacy Rights Clearing House web site provides a wealth of information in layman’s terms. Easy to understand, with many valuable links and forms. The government sites are helpful as well. If you have any questions, we will be happy to assist you.

www.privacyrightsclearinghouse.com

www.consumer.gov/idtheft

www.usdoj.gov

www.idtheftcenter.com





Happy New Year to All!
Santa Cruz Records Management
Secure Document Storage & Confidential Shredding

Wow, another year behind us and a new year is just beginning. As we look back at the past year, we are so grateful to our clients. Many wonderful people not only used our service, but took the time to get the word out about our company. We also want to thank the Santa Cruz Sentinel and The Mid County Post for the articles they wrote about the company. Every referral lets us know that our service is necessary and appreciated. Many thanks to you all.

Our customer liaison team, Larry Gurley and Terry King, had a busy year providing superior service in the field, as well as numerous promotional sojourns through out Santa Cruz County. They collectively shredded hundreds of thousands of pounds of paper, all of which were recycled. We saw Terry's face appear in ads in the news paper, the theater, the yellow pages and almost every publication in the county. He is our very own local celebrity. Larry accepted a number of speaking invitations from local businesses, providing educational information about current FACTA laws and identity theft. All were very successful; he is looking forward to meeting with more business and networking groups in 2006. Maggie Gurley kept the office in order, handling both the accounting and all of the advertising. A team effort was put forth by everyone and the positive results are evident.

For the New Year, our goals are simple. We will continue to provide a superior level of customer service, expand the services available to our clients and build on the solid base we have created. We are all excited to see what the New Year has to offer.

We wish all of you a year of happiness, fulfillment and prosperity.




Identity Theft Awareness Increasing In Santa Cruz County
Santa Cruz Records Management
Susan Tossy - Santa Cruz Records Management

The FACTA disposal rule came into affect on June 1st of this year and many businesses are starting to realize that identity theft is a serious issue. The fact that there are now provisions for law suits and fines seems to be a motivating factor as well. But there are still the hold outs. The businesses that say "we just don't shred" or "we just throw our stuff in the recycle bins". With all of the coverage on increased identity theft (1 in 10 people will be a victim this year, presumably more) we are still amazed to hear statements like that.

A year ago it was not uncommon for us to get the "cold shoulder" when we tried to educate local businesses on the increasing issues of identity theft, proper storage and disposal of sensitive material. Attitudes have really changed in a very short time as awareness increases. Now we get a warm reception at 9 out of 10 businesses, in fact local businesses are seeking us out for information and services. We are also being asked to give presentations to local businesses, organizations and networking groups. Not only do we let people know about our record storage and document shredding service, we educate them on the new laws, local news stories, helpful government websites and available publications. Sharing our own continuing education with the local community has been (and continues to be) a rewarding experience.

In addition to serving the business community, our "walk in" business has been steadily on the rise as awareness increases. We receive calls daily asking if we "do paper shredding for individuals" or "do you shred personal stuff?" Not only do we shred paper for individuals, it is CHEAP & FAST! You can bring it in, we run it through and you are on your way. Walk in business has gone from 1 or 2 a week to an average of 5 people a day. We get people from all over Santa Cruz County, many with stories of identity theft, either themselves or someone they know.

Being aware of the problem is a start, taking action to protect your personal information and that of your customers should be a priority.




10 Ways to Keep Your Companies Information Secure
Your Employees Are Your First Line of Defense
By: Susan Tossy - Santa Cruz Records Management

1) Have a written policy about information security, make sure all employees have a copy and understand each item.

2) Do not share log in passwords.

3) Always log off when you are not using your computer.

4) Do not auto save passwords & use your imagination to create complex passwords.

5) Keep passwords secure, do not write them down on sticky notes and put them on your desk or computer screen. Keep them in your head or in a secure area.

6) Do not use company computers to access or download non work related internet material.

7) Hold confidential conversations in private areas - avoid being overheard by those not authorized to hear the information you are discussing - do not discuss business issues with co-workers with in the hearing of customers, clients or patients.

8) Do not share company information out side of the work place. People that casually question you about the company may not be entitled to company information. Refer them to the company supervisor to avoid sharing the wrong information

9) Store company information in secured locations. Do not leave information on your desk, lock it in drawers. Paper documents should be locked in designated storage areas. Storage areas should be secured, with authorized limited access.

10) When you no longer need papers with confidential information to not discard them with the regular trash. Use the FACTA guidelines to protect everyone you do business with (shred, pulverize or incinerate). Destroy anything that has the following: social security numbers, drivers' license numbers, phone numbers, email addresses, physical addresses, credit card numbers, checking account numbers & any financial information.




FACTA…Does it Affect You?


By: Susan Tossy,Operations Manager
Santa Cruz Records Management

A recent article in USA Today (Jan 2005) addressed the issues of Identity Theft and FACTA in a way that brought the information to people in basic, easy to understand terminology. The bottom line is this: If you conduct business with anyone, you are responsible for protecting any information you have about them - period. Whether you hire a gardener, housekeeper or nanny or employ 1 to 1 million people at a place of business, FACTA applies to you.

FACTA, what does it mean? Technically it means: Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act, a brand new federal law passed in December 2004 designed to reduce the risk of consumer fraud and identity theft created by improper disposal of consumer information.

The law was initially geared towards Lenders, Insurers, Employers, Landlords, Government Agencies, Mortgage Brokers and Automobile Dealers. Did you find your type of business in this group? NO? Read on…

The wording and the intention of FACTA has grown beyond those business types to include: "any person who maintains or otherwise possesses consumer information for a business purpose" must properly destroy discarded consumer information. That means that FACTA applies to virtually every person and business in the United States. FACTA further states: "information must be disposed of by taking reasonable measures to protect against unauthorized access to or use of the information in connection with its disposal". That brings up the next question, what are reasonable measures? Never fear, FACTA has spelled it out clearly:

Reasonable Measures: "burning, pulverizing, or shredding of papers containing consumer information" or entering into "a contract with another party engaged in the business of record destruction to dispose of material, specifically identified as consumer information, in a manner consistent with this rule"

How can you comply? We at Santa Cruz Records Management Inc have heard of everything from throwing papers in the fire place, on a fire pit or on the barbeque. There are companies that hire an employee to sit at a shredder and run a few sheets through at a time. There are self serve shredders housed in laundry mats and copy stores that require bills to be continuously fed through as you shred. The reason we know about all of these methods is because these stories have been told in our office, by the very people that have tried these methods. Time consuming and often ineffective and costly are some of the complaints we hear. If you want to shred your own material, invest in a quality shredder that can handle larger quantities of paper. Cross cut machines are the most secure. The other method is to use a professional shredding company. Make sure they are a NAID member, make sure to look at the facility and walk through the shred process to see exactly how your material will be handled. Our customers are still surprised by the low cost of using a professional shredding company. When we walk our customers through the process from start to finish, they appreciate how quickly and securely their material is disposed of.

The penalties for violation can be severe. FACTA provides for substantial civil liability. Consumers may be entitled to recover their actual damages sustained as a result of a violation of the rule which, in the case of identity theft, could be very large. When large numbers of consumers are affected, they may be able to bring class actions seeking potentially massive statutory damage. If 1000 consumers were affected, a class action could seek $1,000 per consumer, adding up to $1,000,000 dollars in statutory damages. Courts are also authorized to award punitive damages in either an individual suit or a class action. At the federal level, the government may bring action in the federal court for up to $2,500 in penalties for each independent violation of the rule. The states are also authorized to bring actions on behalf of their residents and may recover up to $1,000 for each violation of the rule. In cases of multiple violations, penalties can quickly add up to a large sum.

The intention of providing this information is not a "scare tactic", it is to inform. Crimes using personal information are growing so quickly that federal and state law are scrambling to keep up. It is inevitable that all businesses will have to make these efforts to protect their employees and customers. If you would like more information on FACTA please contact our office.





Why Shred?

By Susan Tossy - Operations Manger
Santa Cruz Records Management Inc

HIPPA, Gramm-Leach-Bliley, Privacy Act, Trade Secret Protection, Identity Theft Laws, Implied Contract Breach…new laws and regulations are creating tighter guidelines for the protection and destruction of confidential information. Whether you know it or not, you have an "implied contract" to protect your customers' confidential information. Simply based on the fact that you are collecting their data to conduct business establishes that contract. Your customers have the right to expect you to take every precaution to protect their information while in your custody and when discarded. Casually discarding information, whether in the form of customer information, company information or individual information, shows disregard for the welfare of all involved parties, exposing them to theft and fraud. It also brings the risk of legal action. Noncompliance can result in stiff penalties.

"Dumpster diving" is one of the primary methods for obtaining confidential information to commit Identity Theft and Corporate Vandalism.

Employees, past & present, have a legal right to have their personal information protected by shredding before it is discarded. Insurance records, employment applications, time cards, health records, accident reports and attendance records are examples of information that legally must be protected.

Why Shred? Why not just toss it into a recycle bin? Other than the obvious risks to the confidentiality of the material, there are other things to consider such as meeting the necessary requirements of information destruction, such as:

How was the material destroyed
Where was it destroyed
Who destroyed it
When was it destroyed
Legal chain of custody
Fiduciary obligations

Cross-cut shredding offers a higher degree of security, it is easy & affordable. Companies should establish a destruction policy specifying what, when, why and how their material is destroyed. Easily accessible in house material collection sites should be set up and a regular shred schedule established.

Shredding Protects: Your Customers, Your Employees and Your Company.




 

Identity Theft - Don't Be the Next Victim

By: Susan Tossy, Operations Manager
Santa Cruz Records Management

We have recently seen a growing trend in the document shredding business. An increase in walk in customer business. These are not commercial clients, but rather individuals who are bringing in material from their homes to be destroyed. Most admit that it is a fear of identity theft that has motivated them to box up old papers, junk mail, canceled checks and anything with confidential information and have it shredded. While it would seem that identity theft has been getting a lot of press and exposure, people still seem to think that it won't happen to them. Over 10 million people thought the same thing last year and will spend years trying to regain their credit and their names. The sources for these thieves are obvious, yet unprotected.

Do you throw your junk mail away in the trash? Do you put your outgoing bills in your mailbox? Do you receive your mail in an unlocked mailbox? Dumpster diving and mail theft are 2 common, yet preventable ways for thieves to have easy access to your information. One piece of mail thrown away at your house will provide your name, the thief now has your address and if you are listed in the phone book, they can look that up as well. This is all they need to request credit card applications, or put in a change of address to reroute your mail to them. Your outgoing bills provide even more information. If you mail a check to your credit card company, that bill has your charge account number on it and your check provides your checking account number. Your incoming mail is just as valuable to thieves. Do you order checks and have them mailed to you? What about all of the credit card, credit line, loan applications and blank credit card checks that say "you're pre-approved; just sign and return"? Trust me, there are a lot of people out there that want to "just sign & return" those applications in your name.

How can you protect yourself? It seems obvious in many ways, yet a lot of people have either not taken the time, think it won't happen to them or are not aware of their vulnerability. What ever the reason, prevention is the solution. Not just at your home, but in every aspect of your life. These steps are easy, quick and painless:

 Get a locking mailbox
 Mail out going mail at a secure source
 Get a shredder - shred everything, if the volume is too great take it to a shredding company and watch them shred it
  Only carry your social security card, passport or birth certificate with you when you need it for something specific. Other wise remove it from your wallet or purse immediately and keep it in a secure locked location.
 Do not give any personal information, account numbers or passwords to anyone that calls you on the phone. Your financial institutions already have this information and have no reason to call you and ask for it.
 Do not buy anything over the phone. Get a business name, address and phone number. Check it out with the Better Business Bureau.
 Protect your Social Security Number at all times! This is a biggie!!! Most places that ask for it don't really need it. If an application asks for it, question it. In most cases it is not required. Job applications ask for it, but employers do not need it unless they hire you. Be careful, be stingy and be safe.

The following websites can offer more information on the subject of identity theft and resources for prevention and victims:

www.consumer.gov/idtheft
www.usdoj.gov
www.privacyrightsclearinghouse.org
www.idtheftcenter.com

 

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