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This Autumn, Don’t Fall For A Scam

As the summer heat begins to taper off into fall’s chill, you’re probably focused on what the season means for you and your family. Pumpkins take the spotlight, featured heavily in our porch seasonal displays and our spiced lattes. Soon enough, they’ll be joined by the turning leaves, as the trees lining Toronto’s streets ignite into fiery-bright reds and yellows. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, thoughts of the harvest come to mind, and many of us will take to our kitchens to preserve our gardens’ bounties. You may even be considering what to wear for Halloween!

It’s a very busy time as Mother Nature gears down, and we need to hustle if we expect to match her pace. As we prepare to close the chapter on summer, the team at Absolute Destruction wants to remind you not to let the season overwhelm you. The fall — like the summer and spring before it — brings with it threats to your identity, but the nature of these scams may be different from their fair-weather counterparts.

When it comes to document shredding Toronto relies on the crew from Absolute because the city knows we can be trusted. We’re a NAID-certified company that adheres to internationally recognized standards of security, so we can guarantee destruction and recycling with every job completed.

Part of our success as a shredding service is how we help eliminate the threat of identity theft through education. In addition to our services, this blog helps our readers keep on top of the latest scams to sweep through Toronto, the GTA, and Canada at large. Today, we’re focusing on the scams most likely to occur this fall.

Utility Phone Scams

As Canadians turn on their furnaces, the fall will see a rise in utility-based phone scams. These criminals will call pretending to be your utility company with threats to turn off your service if you don’t pay their bills. Like most phone scammers, the perpetrators use aggression to intimidate their victims into transferring them money.

If you’re on a tight budget and tardy payments happen from time to time, this kind of call is more alarming than if your account is in good standing. If you owe money, then you will be contacted by your service provider, but the method is important to note. Remember utility companies will never threaten to turn off your power after just one overdue payment. Even if you are late with your payment, you’ll receive several notices in the mail to alert you of your outstanding debit.

When the outstanding amount seems unusual, ask to call them back after you’ve checked your account. If you take the time to sign in and check your usage and billing online, you’ll see that everything’s in order.

Fall Maintenance Service Scams

Last year, a couple from Vaughan was scammed out of thousands of dollars when they hired a duct cleaning service through a telemarketer. The service came and cleaned their ducts but at a rate much higher than agreed upon. At the time of the sale, they used a hand-held POS machine without a display to conceal their scam, so the homeowner wasn’t aware of the higher cost until he reviewed his receipt much later.

Since we operate out of the GTA, we provide outstanding on-site document destruction services in Vaughan, so last year’s case is especially dear to our hearts.

If you need your ducts cleaned this fall, be careful how you book this service. Don’t reserve services from a discount duct cleaner who called you, even if they promise a discount price. There are many legit duct cleaning services in Vaughan and the GTA, and they don’t rely on telemarketing sales to find new customers. Instead, look up a company online or check in with friends to find a reliable service to help prepare your house for the oncoming winter.

Whether it’s a threatening call about your utilities or a telemarketing call securing your business, be critical about the conversations you have on your iPhone or Android. You have a lot of power with a phone because you aren’t locked into anything without your consent. You can hang up on the person on the other end any time they make you feel uncomfortable. Don’t forget this fact, no matter how aggressive these scammers get.

Keep this in mind as you prepare for the cooler months of the fall and don’t forget to give us a call. If home for you is Toronto, Vaughan or somewhere else in the GTA entirely, we can help you eliminate the physical risk of identity theft through effective document destruction. Regardless of where you live, our team upholds the same standards at every job. With mobile teams ready to be deployed on-site to your home or business, our paper shredding in Markham provides the same guarantees as our services in any other city.

Give us a call before Thanksgiving and schedule your first-time purge around the holiday. Until then, our team wishes you and your loved ones a happy Thanksgiving with the hopes of a secure fall to come.

Add comment October 2nd, 2017

Labour Day Checklist: Security On Vacation

As the unofficial end of summer, Labour Day marks the final weekend to enjoy what the season has to offer. With the clock ticking down of what’s left of the summer, the pressure is on. Many of us here in Southern Ontario book last minute day-trips and holidays to get the most out of what remains of the season — even if it is just for a weekend.

As the GTA’s paper shredding experts, we want to remind our readers of the importance of security wherever your Labour Day takes you. Just because you’re planning on relaxing doesn’t mean thieves will. Whether you’re planning on experiencing the Ex’s last weekend, driving up to the cottage, or something completely different, use this guide. We’ll make sure you’ll have an amazing weekend — and a safe one, too!

Be Vigilant & Read the Fine Print

AirBnB makes travel easier for the average globetrotter, but don’t let online convenience fool you. Just because you can find something online doesn’t make it legit. That beach-side resort in the Muskokas costing only $100 on the final weekend of the summer may be too good to be true!

Be wary of the booking site you use. If its URL isn’t something you recognize, research it. If a quick Google search brings up bad reviews or — worse — nothing at all, don’t book with this site. A poor or non-existent online footprint is a warning sign in this day and age.

Put Your Shredding On Hold

While we’re one of the dependable shredding companies in Aurora, we don’t suggest you bring your personal documents along the way to Cottage Country for our Aurora crew to destroy. Our on site shredding services Aurora businesses use are better used for businesses based in town. Transporting sensitive documents or electronic data in anything but our NAID-approved mobile trucks opens you up to risks.

Simply give our offices a call and let us know if you plan to be out of town during our regularly scheduled pick-ups. We can arrange a more convenient time to pick-up your documents once you’re back from the long weekend.

Don’t Overshare Online

Though it’s tempting to tell your followers and Facebook friends your great plans for the weekend, posting your travel plans on social media makes you vulnerable. John Terry, a famous soccer player in the UK, found this out the hard way. After posting several photos of his family vacation abroad, his £5 million mansion was ransacked of thousands of pounds worth of belongings.

Keep your pics to yourself until after you come home — even if you only plan on checking out the ribs at Canada’s Largest Ribfest. Hosted each year in Burlington’s Spencer Smith Park, over 150,000 pounds of BBQ’d ribs are eaten over the Labour Day weekend.

Tell your friends and family your plans, but don’t post specific details about your trip online to accounts that aren’t protected. Leave posting pics and other details until after you return home. Trust our paper shredding Burlington team when we say waiting to post will work to your advantage. Not only will you be in a more secure position, but you’ll catch just how much BBQ sauce is on your face before you post that selfie.

Whether you plan on eating your weight in ribs or sitting by the dock with a cold beer in your hand, remember to stay safe. Security on vacation doesn’t have to be hard work. These tips are simple enough you can add them to your Labour Day without feeling like you’re sacrificing a good time. And we’re always just a phone call away if you have any questions! So enjoy the long weekend and keep your personal information safe.

Add comment August 28th, 2017

HBO Offers Hackers A Bounty Payment

Unless you’ve been living under an especially remote rock, you’ll have heard about the latest season of Game of Thrones. Premiering on July 16, the first episode was watched by over 26 million viewers, with another 91 million people pirating a copy. Now several episodes in, the season hasn’t lost any steam, and it remains the hot topic around water coolers in offices around the world.

We’re no strangers to Throne talk here at the Absolute Destruction office, but we’re not just trying to sort out the many callbacks to previous seasons. What’s caught our eye is HBO’s latest security breach.

At the beginning of August, HBO was the target of hackers that stole roughly 1.5 terabytes of data from the TV network. The data included the personal information of the show’s stars, including their phone numbers and home addresses; the email correspondence of HBO’s VP of Film Programming, Leslie Cohen; several financial balance sheets; and two previously unreleased episodes.

So far, the hackers have only released approximately 3.4 gigs of the data they stole, but they threaten to leak the entirety of their bounty if HBO fails to pay an undisclosed ransom. If you recall our post on ransomware in May of 2016, you’ll remember that it’s never a good idea to bow to these demands. It suggests to other hackers that this kind of behaviour will be rewarded, and there’s no guarantee the hackers won’t just take their ransom and release the data anyways.

It’s unlikely HBO will cough up the entirety of the ransom; however, HBO is willing to negotiate — in a way. In an attempt to extend the ransom’s deadline, the TV network offered hackers a bug bounty payment of $250,000 in Bitcoin.

A bounty payment is something that most corporations budget for each year. It’s refers to payment given to those hackers that find the flaws in security on behalf of the corporation. It’s a useful strategy for company’s concerned with finding each hole in its security. And, according to many insiders, HBO is hoping to use it as a delay tactic.

Bitcoin isn’t a currency that’s easily gathered. HBO can use its lengthy acquisition process to find holes and track the hackers. Already there have been four arrests.

As it stands, HBO’s undergoing a strict forensic review to find out the details behind the hack. Jeff Cusson, a spokesperson for the TV network, says the review has yet to reveal any issues with its security or email system, so there’s no reason to believe the hack is part of a bigger problem. It should, however, lead the company to renew its security protocols.

As HBO struggles with its security issues in the limelight for all of the Internet to see, it poses a perfect reminder that your company — small or large — should take the appropriate security measures to protect its confidential information. While a leak affecting your offices may not have the same impact as HBO’s, yours will have significant consequences to your finances and your reputation.

In addition to updating your digital security policies and employee training, electronic data and document destruction is an important part of any commercial defence. Once you ensure your security policy is comprehensive enough to protect your clients and intellectual property, give us a call.

We can be your trusted document shredding company in Aurora, offering shredding and recycling services to those who call the York Region home. But we aren’t bound by city limits like so many of our competitors. As a mobile shredding service, we bring the on site shredding services Aurora business owners trust to the rest of Southern Ontario, allowing us to protect businesses and individuals all around the GTA.

That means we’re a document destruction company in Burlington as well as a variety of cities around the Golden Horseshoe. Check out our landing page to determine if we service your town. If we do, it’s only a matter of a few clicks to schedule a one-time purge or a regular weekly pick-up.

Game of Thrones usually provides a nice escape from reality every Sunday night, but for once the HBO show reminds us of an important lesson. There are significant consequences to data breaches. We must take the appropriate steps in our security if we expect to avoid them. Beef up your digital security policies and call us when you’re ready to start shredding.

Add comment August 22nd, 2017

Summer 2017: The Year of The Staycation

The smell of barbeque is in the air, your fridge is fully stocked with craft brews, and the ubiquitous sound of hammering is filling the neighbourhood. It’s obvious that summer is finally here in the GTA. Even busy at work, your favourite document destruction services in Toronto, Absolute Destruction, can’t ignore the signs.

As the sun shines brightly on our little corner of the world, many of us can’t wait to jet set across the globe on their summer holidays. For many of us, exotic locales and far-off getaways entice us to leave behind the daily grind and forget all about our troubles. Those who can’t block out their siren’s call have already booked their flights to far away destinations.

They’ll leave behind a growing number of Canadians who have more familiar locations within their summer sights. According to Expedia.ca, the popular discount travel website, over three-quarters of the country (77%) plan to keep their vacation within the country this summer. The staycation — a twee portmanteau that was a fad of the travel and tourism industry — has become a veritable travel trend.

According to Expedia’s survey, there are many factors influencing Canadians’ decisions to stick close to home. July 1 celebrated the country’s sesquicentennial birthday, and many people booked their holidays to coincide with local events. There’s also the fact that the loonie is performing poorly this year — to the point that Huffington Post has deemed it the “ugly duckling” of global currency. Combined with the rising costs of travel during peak times, international tours are out of the question for many families. Of course, increasing concerns for geopolitical issues and terrorist attacks doesn’t help matters, so security concerns are just another reason why Canadians aim to staycation in 2017.

Luckily, we live in a beautiful country brimming with local events, cultural celebrations, and natural delights to hold our attention this summer. For our readers who live in Toronto — or who don’t mind taking the GO into the city — there’s Carribana, Festival of Beer, Taste of the Danforth, and the Ex’s food trucks to explore this summer.

There’s something going on in any every little pocket of the country. So close to cottage country, Barrie is a popular destination for those who want to escape the asphalt for the woods. London, though smaller than Toronto, still offers a variety of street festivals and special events throughout the summer.

It’s usually around this time of year that the crew at Absolute Destruction reminds our readers to travel with security on their minds. Don’t let your guard down just because you’re sticking close this summer. Abroad, we often make security a priority as we use unfamiliar ATMs and visit unusual places. By comparison, we barely think of cybersecurity during a little day trip. It’s easy to fall into a false sense of security just because you’re around familiar sights.

Don’t fall into the trap wherever your summer takes you. Remain vigilant at home and abroad by keeping an eye on bank statements. Don’t shop at places that make you uncomfortable and be sure to employ safe online shopping techniques. Last but not least, make sure you destroy any travel documents that record your financial information as soon as you don’t need them anymore.

We can help you tackle these travel documents with a one-time purge, or we can set up a regular pick-up schedule for steady paper files and e-waste disposal. Call to secure document destruction in Barrie if cottage country is where you call home.

Don’t forget we’re also a shredding company in London in addition to the GTA, so we can help you successfully destroy documents for good wherever you live in Southern Ontario. Just give us a call once you’re back from your staycation. Together, we’ll make sure your fun in the sun won’t affect your credit score for the rest of the year.

Add comment July 31st, 2017

Bankruptcy Declared After Swedish CEO Target Of Identity Theft

As your go-to source for paper shredding in Toronto, Absolute Destruction is no stranger to the topic of identity theft. Sometimes we think we’ve seen it all, but then the unexpected happens. It’s not often a false bankruptcy application is filed, but 2017 is the year that defies the odds of our expectations. That’s exactly what happened to Alf Goransson, the 59-year-old CEO of Sweden’s largest security firm Securitas AB. On July 10, the Stockholm District Court declared the business man bankrupt after his identity was stolen.

The ruling was reversed quickly as soon as Goransson was made aware of the incident, but not before Securitas removed him as the company’s CEO. It turns out his identity was first hacked back in March, at which time it was used to open a personal loan of an undisclosed amount. Four months later, his identity was then used to file for bankruptcy. The application itself was just a single page and didn’t require notarization.

According to an official statement, Securitas is unsure of how his personal information was stolen. Goransson has also not heard any more about the status of his fraudulent loan application, and Securitas is now working on reinstating him as their CEO.

Though the company’s spokesperson claims the theft and bankruptcy have no effect on the company, the news is bad press certainly for a company that prides itself on data security consultations. As one of the biggest security firms in the entire world, it’s bad form to see its CEO so easily targeted by identity theft criminals. Irony aside, it calls into question the firm’s ability to protect its clients from cyber-attacks.

The Swedish caper is a lesson the entire world needs. Sweden leads the way in digitization. The country is slowly becoming a cashless society. Buses, churches, even homeless shelters prefer card or mobile payments over cash. Sweden is also seeing a rise in identity theft. Nearly 13,000 cases of identity theft were reported in the first half of 2017, with Goransson one of them.

The incident highlights the need for strengthened cyber security and personal vigilance in the face of a changing society. Though Sweden is leading in digitization, Canada is close behind. At the time of a 2013 MasterCard study, Canada was third in the world for cashless payments. Since then we’ve eliminated the penny, and now the Mint has its eyes on the nickel. The future where we discontinue all cash may not be far off. According to a Payments Canada survey, 50% of us are ready to abandon cash and coin altogether.

As a result, we’re relying on digital payments more every day. Businesses need to invest in robust security protocols that include the latest firewalls, site certificates, Secure Socket Layers, and internal safety procedures. Any obsolete company electronics should also be destroyed properly through our electronic data destruction services. You can add electronic pickups to our paper shredding services in Mississauga quite easily, as is the case with are our other locations.

As a leading mobile shredding service in the GTA, we can help businesses and individuals all over Southern Ontario. That’s the advantage to our fleet of mobile trucks. We’re a Markham document shredding company as much as we are a Toronto-based company.

Though it’s unlikely to have bankruptcy filed fraudulently in your name, identity theft is still a real threat wherever you live in Canada. Give us a call if you’re ready to beef up your defences against hackers. We’ll help make sure physical evidence of your personal information is never used against

Add comment July 21st, 2017

In The News: Bell Exposes Millions in Large Scale Breach

Last month, we explored the story of a local woman who realized she was a victim of identity theft after receiving an unusual ETR bill. The Absolute Destruction headquarters, located in Aurora, is only a stone’s throw away from Vaughan where the crime took place. It’s the first time we examined an incident that was so close to home.

We think it’s important that we investigate local cases of identity theft, to show that it isn’t just a subject of Hollywood films. Identity theft is a real danger to anyone who doesn’t protect their personal information properly.

That’s why we’re starting our second installment of our semi-regular feature, In the News, in which we look at a Canadian telecomm company that failed to shield its customers from a cyberattack — many of whom live in the GTA. Last month, Bell was the victim of an online hack that exposed the personal emails of roughly 1.9 million people and the contact information of 1,700 individuals.

The anonymous hackers posted a note that promised to leak more information should Bell fail to give into their demands. What those demands were are still protected by the ungoing investigation, but it’s likely the criminals were asking for a ransom. Remember, from our post on Ransomware back in May of 2016, that paying these demands rarely works to the victim’s advantage.

Though millions of people were affected in the attack, Bell maintains there was “minimal risk involved” with the breach, and they are still working with law enforcement and the government to ensure the safety of their customers.

We’ll be hearing about breaches more often in the future because of the way companies must now handle these leaks — not because we suspect the threat of hackers has multiplied in any way. Under the guidance of the Canadian Securities Administrators, the federal government is making changes to the country’s privacy laws.

In the past, some cyberattacks were never reported, as there were no legal regulations requiring companies to share this information. The latest changes require companies to disclose more information about every single data breach that results in exposing Canadians’ personal information. These modifications dictate companies also divulge any risk they think may result in another cyberattack sometime in the future.

As a result, more Canadians than ever before will be notified their personal information has been leaked. While these reports will be alarming to those affected, those responsible for these privacy laws hope their work will ultimately lead to greater transparency regarding security.

It only makes sense in terms of marketing. If a company is forced to share every data breach and internal weakness that could lead to more in the future, they’ll want to demonstrate to their customers the way they use their information and how they hope to protect it.

In addition to firewalls, network antivirus, and server security, hiring our commercial shredding services is an essential way to eliminate the threat of identity theft. While firewalls and server securities will protect current information your business needs to store, our document destruction and electronic data destruction ensures obsolete paper and digital files can no longer expose customer information or company intellectual property.

If you’re one of the many business owners that call the GTA home, get in touch with our team. We’ll arrange a convenient shredding schedule customized to your needs, so you can protect your company from local threats of identity theft.

Add comment June 26th, 2017

Don’t Let Tax Season Become Scam Season

Now that the tax deadline is just around the corner, many Canadians are feeling the crunch. Unfortunately, so are cyber criminals. The number of phishing scams and deceptive phone calls skyrocket at this time of the year, as identity thieves attempt to capitalize on people’s tax anxiety. We here at Absolute Destruction don’t want you sharing your personal information accidentally, whether it’s by an errant credit card statement or by one of these cons. That’s why in addition to providing the GTA with secure document destruction, we’ve compiled a cheat sheet to help you avoid falling for these scams.

Some popular scams include an email stating you owe on one of your returns, and in order to pay the difference you must follow the link that they provide. In clicking this link, you may be sent to a page that looks very similar to the Canadian Revenue Agency’s official website, as these criminals will take care to make their request look legit; but there are little clues that should tip you off.

  • The CRA will never email to you unless it’s to confirm your email for your My Account or to notify you of new mail on your My Account
  • The CRA will never email you a link asking for your contact or financial information
  • The fraudulent link in these phishing emails won’t have the CRA domain name nor will its email address come from the official agency

Another scam currently targeting Canadians is done over the phone. Someone posing as a CRA agent will call you claiming you owe a lot of money on one of your returns. They’ll use hostile language and threats of jail time in order to extort the amount that you supposedly owe. They’ll also suggest you divulge your credit card number or use a pre-paid credit card or retail gift card to pay off your debt. Like the phishing scam above, there should be clear signs that you aren’t speak with the CRA in this situation.

  • The CRA will never use threatening or vulgar language when speaking about your account
  • The CRA will never ask for your credit card information over the phone
  • The CRA will never suggest you use pre-paid credit cards or retail gift cards in order to pay what you owe on your return
  • The CRA will never leave an intimidating voicemail message detailing personal information.

What seems like an obvious scam to you has fooled a number of Canadians into giving their personal, financial information to these criminals. According to the latest studies, the number of people who were defrauded by these kinds of scams have increased. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) found that more people were targeted successfully in the first half of 2016 than all of 2015. The CAFC also believes this figure doesn’t even tell the true story, as most victims don’t report their issues.

Be wary of how you share your information at any time of the year, but especially tax season. If you ever receive an email or phone call that you think is unusual, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Disconnect the call or exit your email to check in with the CRA. Log onto your My Account or call the official number of the CRA. You’ll be able to verify if your tax account is normal and then alert the agency of the scam.

Stay safe this tax season, and be careful with your personal information. Share your personal information with only the CRA, and be sure to call us to destroy any obsolete tax returns.

Add comment May 2nd, 2017

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