Low-Tech Ways Thieves Steal Business and Personal Information

Online identity theft and business fraud continues to plague our business and personal lives, with thieves hacking into financial networks and using malicious codes and phishing schemes to steal information. But not all criminals use computers to gain access to sensitive and confidential information. Here are several low-tech methods thieves use to steal valuable information.

Dumpster Diving

Trash and recycling bins filled with paperwork offer thieves easy opportunities for accessing sensitive information. It seems logical then, to shred documents and files before throwing them away. However, bags of shredded paper are still attractive to thieves, especially since office paper shredders aren’t sophisticated and may not shred paperwork beyond recognition. Thieves may simply steal bags of shredded material hoping to reconstruct documents manually or with the aid of computer software.

The best way to thwart dumpster-diving criminals is with a professional paper shredding service. Your shredding and destruction provider will place secure collection containers in your office. Rather than using a time-consuming paper shredding machine, your documents can be quickly dropped into a locked container. On a schedule set by you, your information is collected and destroyed on-site at your facility in a mobile shredding vehicle operated by a trained and screened shredding professional. This way, your confidential information never ends up in a dumpster where it can be easily compromised.

Insider Theft at Work

Identity theft and business fraud criminals come from all walks of life, and may even include your employees. Undetected insider theft of information often occurs when sensitive information is left unattended and unprotected within offices. Conduct a walk-through of your facility to assess specific risks, such as:

  • Documents left in copiers, fax machines or on desks
  • Unlocked file storage rooms
  • Personal information in waste bins

A “clean desk policy,” requiring that files be attended or secured at all times, is a practical and economical way to keep sensitive information out of view and lower the risk of insider theft in your organization.

Mail Theft

Mail theft is becoming an increasing popular, low-tech way for thieves to steal personal and business information. Earlier this year, a Langley, British Colombia woman was charged with stealing over 15,000 pieces of mail sent via Canada Post. Both incoming and outgoing mail is susceptible to theft, and checks, employee records, bank statements and pre-approved credit card applications are especially desirable to criminals. Keep your mailbox locked and collect incoming mail as soon as possible. And use a scheduled shredding or residential shredding service to make sure unwanted mail is promptly destroyed.

Capitalizing on Digital Distraction

These days, sensitive information isn’t stored in one central location like a server; it’s on tablets, smartphones, laptops, and in the cloud, too. The portability of digital devices–along with their distracted owners–makes the data stored on them especially vulnerable to theft. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and never leave your laptop or other personal electronic devices unattended in cars, conference rooms, coffee shops or other public spaces. Always back up the data on your digital devices and remember to use a professional media destruction service for secure disposal.

Thieves use a variety of methods to commit acts of identity theft and business fraud. It’s crucial to pay attention to all of them so you can protect your information.

Shred Guard provides NAID AAA Certified shredding and destruction services for businesses throughout Atlantic Canada. For more information, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.

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