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Posts filed under 'Paper Shredding'

Identity Theft: What to Do When it Happens

Despite it being our mission to provide document destruction services to everyone in the GTA, we simply can’t help everyone. Misinformation is our biggest hurdle. People simply aren’t aware that they need to protect their personal information (PI) when they dispose of it. Without knowing any better, they can accidentally share private details by throwing out files and obsolete electronics. It doesn’t always result in identity theft or fraud. But all it takes is for the right person to find your information before you’re dealing with the personal and financial consequences of a breach of PI.

Until we get the word out to all of the GTA and change everyone’s disposal methods, identity theft will happen. When it does, it’s in your best interest to start the recovery process as soon as you’ve realized it’s happened. It’s more frustrating and time consuming than you’d think, which is why we’ve developed a convenient guide on what to do should you suspect your PI has been stolen.

Make a Report
Your number one priority is to alert the authorities about the theft. This is an essential step should you ever need to prove to any financial institutions or creditors that a crime has been committed, so be sure to file a report right away. Once you’ve made your report, you can contact your bank and other financial organizations. Chances are your bank has already noticed unusual activity on your account, as they’ve created special algorithms to analyze your buying patterns. If they haven’t noticed any suspicious activity, you’ll want to clarify which purchases were made without your authorization. They’ll also be able to cancel any credit card accounts that have been compromised before flagging your account.

Notify the Government
Once you’ve alerted the authorities and banks about the situation, you’ll have prevented any more additional charges from being made in your name; however, you shouldn’t stop there. If your Social Insurance Number (SIN) was involved in the breach, your name may be used to create fraudulent identities. It’s important that you get in touch with Service Canada to inform them of your stolen PI. They’ll be able to reissue both federal and provincial identification, like your Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card and your SIN card. Often identity thieves will open up credit accounts under your name and have the cards sent to a new address. We suggest alerting Canada Post about your situation too and making a formal address update to ensure no mail is redirected inappropriately.

Speak with a Credit Bureau
Your next step is to monitor your credit. You can work in conjunction with one of the country’s top crediting bureaus (such as Equifax, for example) to examine your ongoing credit activity. With their help, you’ll be able to see any additional fraudulent accounts open in your name that you weren’t aware of. We also recommend you apply a fraud warning on your account. This flag will stay on your account for six years, and it will warn lenders that your poor credit score is due to fraud.

It may take some time to get through this entire list. It may also take a lot of will power to work with the various organizations, creditors, and institutions necessary to flag, cancel, and monitor your accounts. Comparatively, the effort it takes to prevent identity theft is negligible. You only need to pick up the phone and speak with one of our representatives to schedule an appointment . Our mobile shredders will arrive at your house or place of business, where we’ll destroy your files and electronics using the latest NAID-approved techniques. Our shredders are equipped with sharp, complex blades that can completely demolish the paper and devices that hold your PI. Thieves wouldn’t be able to retrieve this information even if given the opportunity to go through this waste. Of course, they won’t because we immediately deliver these items to a secure recycling facility.

When you schedule our document destruction services, you remove the opportunity for thieves to come across and use your PI. So think about how you dispose of your paper and electronics. If they store confidential information like your contact details, account numbers, passwords, and other financial material, they can’t be thrown out with the rest of the trash. They need the guarantee of destruction that only we can provide.

Add comment August 22nd, 2016

Stay on top of Changes to the Personal Health Information Protection Act

Over two months ago, the Ontario legislature passed a third reading of the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA). It resulted in amendments meant to improve the accountability and transparency of the healthcare system, including changes to the penalties for privacy breaches. Anyone working in the healthcare industry would do well by reviewing these revisions, ensuring their method of collecting, storing, and disposing of Personal Health Information (PHI) is within accordance to the amended act.

PHIPA is still a relatively young bill, having only been introduced in May of 2004. Since then, it has regulated the way healthcare workers can collect, use, disclose, and dispose of PHI. Under this bill, PHI means any data as it relates to a patient’s past, current, or future medical files. It’s an umbrella term that encompasses a considerable amount of information. PHI is deemed anything used by a healthcare worker to identify or treat a patient, including family medical histories, prescriptions, hospital records, and lab test results.

The original bill outlined clear strategies on how to collect and record PHI. Physical files should be locked in filing cabinets in rooms with restricted access, while digital records should be protected by passwords, encryption, and firewalls. Only those who have been properly trained and authorized to handle these documents should have access to the rooms and computers used to store them. Once obsolete, these records follow similarly controlled methods of disposal. In order to protect outdated and unnecessary PHI, PHIPA requires the complete and utter destruction of both physical and digital copies.

These basic features of PHIPA have not changed in the latest reading, but the minor modifications have improved the transparency of the bill in hopes of strengthening patient privacy. Firstly, it’s now mandatory for healthcare organizations to report any breaches of privacy to the Information and Privacy Commissioner. Changes also include removing time restrictions on prosecutions, eliminating the need to start prosecutions within 6 months of the breach. Perhaps the most important amendment – from healthcare professionals’ perspectives – is the increase in fines for those individuals and organizations found guilty of breaking PHIPA. Nearly doubling in amount, these penalties can range from $50,000 – $100,000 for individuals and $250,000 – $500,000 for organizations or businesses.

It would be a shame to be fined half a million dollars over something so easily preventable. Employee screening and training is a critical step in safeguarding the chain of custody and shouldn’t be overlooked. Neither should mobile shredding services. Simply by scheduling regular pickups of paper medical files and obsolete electronics, the healthcare industry can avoid disposing of PHI incorrectly, saving themselves from prosecution and hefty fines.

Our shredding services are performed by highly vetted individuals, who follow NAID-certified processes to ensure security at every stage. From collection to destruction and finally recycling, the documents and devices are properly secured until our shredding representatives can provide twin guarantees of destruction and recycling.

PHIPA applies to far more professionals than just healthcare providers like doctors and nurses. Anyone working within the industry must abide by this law, including freelance caregivers, pharmacists, lab technicians, paramedics, physiotherapists, naturopaths, and mental health care workers. That’s a huge range of professionals who need help ensuring they stay within the letter of the law. Whether you’re a self-employed massage therapist or a director of a medical laboratory, your business needs professional shredding services. Luckily for you, we service the entire healthcare industry with dependable shredding, and you need only call or send off a request form to schedule your first appointment.

Add comment July 25th, 2016

Strengthen the Chain of Custody

You don’t have to be in the legal field to appreciate the need for a secure chain of custody. The way you and your business obtains, records, shares, and disposes of paper and electronic documents is important, regardless of your industry. Implementing fortified policies that secure physical and digital data is one of the best measures you can take to prevent fraud, but it isn’t the only way to protect your confidential material. A sound network security deters hackers from preying on your organization, but it does nothing to prevent something as simple as human error from threatening your company.

You can have the most sophisticated system put in place to safeguard your files, but they’re only effective when all of your employees can follow them. A simple mistake, whether through malice or ignorance, can negate the intricate physical and technological securities you have. You may have the utmost faith in your employees, but employee negligence is the one of the number one causes of fraud. According to the Ponemon Institute, over 80% of all corporate data breaches were due to human error. A fact confirmed by the Identity Theft Resource Centre (ITRC) and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, both of which presented similar findings through independent studies. All it takes is an accidental email, a misplaced company phone, or mishandled files, and all of your elaborate precautions can be for naught.

When people are the weakest link in your chain of custody, it’s important that you invest in regular training. A one-time afternoon spent going over policies and procedures isn’t enough; people will eventually forget one or all of the steps involved in securing data and they’ll jeopardize the company when they do.

Next to education, limiting access to confidential material to top personnel only is another way you can secure the lines of information. Minimize contact by handing over the destruction of sensitive paper and digital files to a service that specializes in safe methods of removal.

As a NAID certified shredding service, we’re well-informed of the best ways to dispose of vulnerable material. We supply your office with locked containers to collect the paper and electronics that you need destroyed. These sealed bins, boxes, or bags can’t be accessed by anyone but our bonded, insured, and uniformed personnel, thus reducing the number of people who have the ability to read or retrieve any discarded information. Once these containers are full, our shredding experts will come to you, and they’ll shred your collected material on-site – after which they’ll deliver the destroyed contents to a secured recycling facility. There are no intermediaries or other employees involved in any of these steps; just our small group of dependable representatives.

When you limit the number of people who have access to important information, you’re strengthening the security policies that you put in place. Consider the lengthy chain of custody you currently have. If it involves far too many employees, give us a call. We can set up a regular pick-up for shredding according to your schedule. Whether that’s weekly, monthly, or something other arrangement, we’ll find a schedule that fits with your needs. You only have to pick up the phone!

Add comment June 21st, 2016

Spring Cleaning – the Safe Way

Spring has officially sprung in the GTA, and we’re welcoming it with open arms. Though this past winter was unseasonably warm, it was still too cold for our liking. Now that the days are longer and the temperatures are finally in the double digits, many of us are swinging open the windows and letting that warm breeze flow through our homes.  The fresh air will certainly aid in clearing out winter’s bad humours, especially as you start your annual spring cleaning. As you move through your rooms, remember that your home office requires a more discerning cleaning routine than the rest of your house. It’s home to personal and confidential information, so you need to clean, de-clutter, and organize your office with care.

If it’s been awhile since your last clean through, your office can be quite the challenge this April. Utility bills, financial statements, records, receipts, tax refunds, and other miscellaneous documents can take up space on every flat surface, and these towering stacks of paper make your task daunting. You may be tempted to sweep all of these files into an awaiting recycling bin to save on time and stress, but we wouldn’t recommend you do that. Without reviewing their content first before you throw these papers out, you could be setting yourself up for financial mistakes and identity theft.

While some of the receipts you kept out of obligation can see the inside of your recycling bin without any risks, there are other documents that should never be thrown outperiod. The original copies of your birth certificate, will, marriage license, and mortgage should be taken from these piles and filed away in a cabinet or desk drawer. You should also keep a hold of car titles, life and auto insurances, investments, and pension plans, taking efforts to file them away with labels so you know where to look when you next want to review them.

Next up are those documents that you need to keep but only for a little while. As we mentioned last month, the Canadian Revenue Agency requires you to retain your old tax returns and any supporting documents for 6 years after you file. The CRA reserves the right to review any return within those 6 years, and if they do, they will request to see any associated paperwork. Should your file be audited and you can’t provide these documents, the CRA may fine you for filing a false statement. Being reviewed and finding out you need to pay a fine because of your poor bookkeeping doesn’t feel good. Avoid the stress of owing the CRA by keeping your tax refunds organized properly for the appropriate time frame.

Once you clear your desk free of the “keepers”, it’s time to turn your eye towards what you need to discard. Some of these documents should never leave your office in an average garbage or recycling container. Those tax returns that exceed 6 years, as well as credit and bank statements, prescriptions, bills, and any other file that shows important contact or account information should never be thrown out with the rest of your recycling. Thieves target residential recycling and garbage bins to find these kinds of documents, as the confidential information they hold can be used to open up fraudulent accounts.

According to idAlerts Canada, the average victim of identity theft ends up paying $2,000 out of pocket to recover from these thefts. Being liable for expenses you didn’t make feels a lot worse than owing the CRA. To make sure you never have to pay for charges made in your name, let us help you with your spring cleaning. Our one-time purge document destruction service can ensure any file you wish to discard is incinerated entirely within our mobile shredders. We’ll even give you a “Certificate of Destruction” as proof that our shredding services will make it impossible for criminals to retrieve your information! So give us a call as you embrace your spring cleaning schedule.

Add comment April 21st, 2016

Why Local Is the Way to Go

Identity theft: it happens more often than you think. According to Trans Union and Equifax, the country’s top two credit bureaus, they receive anywhere between 1,400 and 1,800 identity theft complaints from Canadians every month! Those numbers aren’t very encouraging. To think you can avoid becoming victim of identity theft by sheer luck alone isn’t just optimistic, it’s downright dangerous. Without a proper system in place to protect your confidential material, you (or your business) could very well be another number to prove these statistics right.

When you’re ready to throw out your documents – stop. Files with your name, contact information, account numbers, or – worst of all – your SIN should never see the inside of your garbage or recycling bins. Bills, financial statements, and old tax returns hold the keys to unlocking your identity, and criminals actively search through garbage to get their hands on this information. All they need is a name and a few crucial numbers to start opening false accounts under your name.

As Shereen Zink found out, these accounts can rack up quite a bit of money. In her particular case, identity thieves used her name and SIN to open an account with Bell Canada. When the account went overdue, Bell came calling for the bill that amounted to $3,500. Eventually, Zink was able to prove to the phone company that she did not open or use the account, but this process took 8 long months.

No one wants to get entangled in a legal battle with a company over money they didn’t spend. That’s why it’s essential that you use our secure document disposal services whenever you need to get rid of important paper documents. These services destroy any files into pieces so small there’s no hope of them being recovered.

But why specifically is a local company better? Because it’s as simple as it is secure. As a shredding service local to the GTA, we’ve streamlined our process to eliminate any weaknesses in security. The steps that we take to destroy your material are few, secure, and straight forward. We operate with a small crew of fully bonded service representatives who arrive to your home or place of business with one of our mobile shredding trucks where they’ll shred your documents on site. These representatives and our trucks adhere to standards set by the National Association for Information Destructions (NAID) to ensure the utmost confidentiality. Once completed, we can supply a “Guarantee of Destruction” before our representatives deliver the pulverized paper to a secure recycling facility.

It’s as simple as that. There are no elaborate methods of acquiring, shredding, or recycling your documents. You simply only have to schedule an appointment, and we’ll meet you wherever you are. Our service representatives will transport your collected material to our shredders under your watchful eye.

If you’re ready to protect yourself from potential identity theft, check out our services. See if you require a one-time purge or a regular pick-up for the amount of paper or electronics that you produce. Then you only need to call or request an online quote to schedule our services. Once we dispose of your confident documents with our guaranteed certainty, you can rest assured you’ll avoid being a victim!

Add comment March 22nd, 2016

Tax Season is Around the Corner: Protect Yourself!

March isn’t just a herald of spring. It also signals the beginning of tax season. With April 30th as the final day to file last year’s income tax return, the upcoming weeks can be busy for Canadians. As you begin to sort through your various T3s, T4s, and T5s, we thought it the appropriate time to remind you about how important it is to handle these documents with care. The personal information (PI) recorded on these slips can be used against you should they be found by the wrong kind of people. Criminals will stop at nothing to find and use your PI to file false returns and open dummy accounts, so you need to ensure you dispose of your information correctly.

As we reported last year, over 31,000 cases of identity theft were reported to the credit monitoring company Equifax in 2013. Unfortunately, according to the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), only 128 people were convicted of tax fraud in that same year, and only 23% of them ever saw jail time. This number may seem modest in comparison to those submitted by our neighbours to the south (the US saw 25 times as many convictions in 2013), but these 128 cases still managed to total over $32 million in losses.

Falsifying tax refunds is simple enough in this country. All one needs to file a tax return is a real name and an authentic Social Insurance Number (SIN). A thief can easily falsify the remaining documents they need to complete a return. As long as the name and SIN is legitimate, a false return won’t be flagged within the system. That means an identity thief can reap any rewards their doctored return grants them under your name, and if they’re good, these rewards are plenty. They can continue to file under your name until you notice a discrepancy or if it’s randomly chosen to be audited by the CRA.

The numbers are stacked against you, but they provide a necessary lesson. If you remain vigilant during and after tax season and keep your PI away from those who wish to commit tax fraud, you can stay safe. Any document you use to support your tax return should be filed carefully away from prying eyes. This includes any bills or receipts that include your contact information, financial account numbers, and SIN – even if you don’t need them for your income tax.

In fact, it’s important that you know exactly where you store your old tax returns and their supporting documents. Should your (genuine) return come under review, the CRA will request to see these files. If you can’t supply these documents, you could be fined for a false statement. To avoid that, the CRA requires you keep your past tax returns and their supporting papers on file for 6 years.

After those years, however, you can do as you please with them, but we suggest that you don’t throw them out with the rest of the recycling. Tax fraudsters look through garbage and recycling bins left out on the curb for exactly this information.

When you’re ready to throw out your confidential material, keep your important files out of the garbage. Instead, rely on our document destruction services to dispose of your paper. Our fully bonded service representatives destroy your material using our secure mobile shredding trucks, so we can shred all of your documents at your curb. Should you complete your taxes online, these trucks have the power to incinerate any digital media (like laptops, memory sticks, CD-ROMs, or external hard drives) that you’ve used to store PI. Whether it’s paper or electronic material, we can guarantee a certification of destruction and recycling.

If you notice you’ve kept tax information back dating to 2008 or earlier, it’s time that you give us a call. We can help you free up some space in your filing cabinet, and in the process, keep you safe from tax fraud.

Add comment March 14th, 2016

Habits Of A Successful Business

If you’re anything like us, then you’ve wondered what gives one company the advantage over its competitors. When the same services are rendered by friendly representatives, it can be difficult to spot the reasons why one business is preferred by consumers to others. But careful study suggests the line between success and failure isn’t as arbitrary as it may seem. Though all businesses are subject to the state of the economy, thriving companies tend to have in common simple habits that give them the competitive edge.

A company’s philosophy plays a pivotal role in its chances of success. The way it interacts with its employees and customers is just as important as any service it provides. Those corporations that do well celebrate transparency in all that it does. A culture of trust is important for opposite ends of the ladder. Even the lowest employees should feel comfortable speaking with management should they encounter difficulties at the front-lines. Often it’s here that challenges present themselves first, so it’s critical that management learns of them as soon as possible to try and solve them.

This, of course, suggests an ability to communicate. Even the smallest enterprises can have difficulties ensuring missives, instructions, and other company information are distributed properly to all levels. Sometimes it feels like the nature of doing business, especially if you have hundreds of people on the payroll, but that’s simply not the case. Exceptional business owners know how to flatten the lines of communication, so that everyone on staff knows current goals, responsibilities, and policies.

Highly successful businesses are always willing to change, keen to adopt innovative practices within their industry and search for smart solutions for recurring problems. When communication is flowing freely, this means those advanced strategies can be disseminated efficiently through ranks to ensure the company’s growth and risk-management.

One way successful businesses keep on top of changing business environments is by creating adaptive security policies. As data breaches become more commonplace within the business world, it’s important that sensitive information – including client contact details and company intellectual property – is properly collected, stored, and disposed of. When an organization adopts a comprehensive security plan that is effectively shared and recognized by the entire staff, it lessens the chances that the company gets slapped with a fine and ruin its reputation.

No security policy would be complete without a reliable document destruction service. Regardless of industry, every business will collect personal information from clients that can’t be disposed of with the regular trash. When you hire our bonded team of destruction experts, your confidential material will be handled like the sensitive material that it is. We supply locked containers for your staff to deposit obsolete documents without fear of exposing them as normal garbage or recycling bins will. According to a schedule that fits the amount of paper and digital media you collect, our team will arrive at your business’ door and destroy your documents in our NAID-approved mobile shredding trucks. Upon completion, you’ll receive a “Guarantee of Destruction” ensuring your documents will never be the cause of any breach or leak.

Incorporating transparent, open communication so that company goals, instructions, and policy on security can flow freely between employees is just one way to give your company a competitive edge. When your business doesn’t have to worry about security issues, then you can focus on nurturing the habits of other successful companies. So give us a call and get started on developing your company’s healthy practices.

Add comment January 21st, 2016

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