16 Aug 2011
In the US events known as “Shred-A-Thon” are taking place up and down the nation. The concept is simple; take your personal, sensitive or confidential documentation to a central point and join others in a mass shred! There is something cathartic and social about the programme in a land where identity theft has a much greater profile than here in Europe.
We can’t lay claim to the idea but we what about this for a twist! In a recent article (see Rexel News: How Safe is your Business?) we discussed the size of the identity theft issue here in Europe and commented that the starting point for effective action is awareness amongst all staff, not just senior management. Why not try a Shred-A-Thon?
What is a Shred-A-Thon; at its simplest it is an awareness day (or period) linked to positive group action. Use your internal communication channels to raise awareness of corporate fraud and identity theft issues; intranet, email, posters by the coffee machine. Then set aside a lunchtime, put on some catering and invite staff to bring both company confidential and personal documents to a central location (the staff restaurant, conference room, break out area) for a public shredding.
The benefits; you will ensure that one batch of sensitive material is properly destroyed. You will raise the awareness of identity theft within your organisation and start a new behaviour towards the destruction of documents. You can even use it to launch a comprehensive review and proactive strategies.
2 Aug 2011
In the last of our features on the “Top 14 Financial Frauds of All Time” we turn our attention to “The ZZZZ Best Cleaners” (1986)
Barry Minkow became the new darling of Wall Street when he floated his cleaning company on the US stock market. Shares in ZZZZ Best experienced a meteoric rise creating a company with a market capitalisation of $200 million. Unfortunately, ZZZZ Best, originally funded through a series of credit-card thefts didn't have any contracts and very few assets. It was in short an elaborate hoax. Once discovered the stock dropped to zero, investors lost their money and Minkow lost his liberty. Lest you mock; Minkow’s time at the top earned him a guest spot on the Oprah Whinfrey show, the ultimate in American endorsements.
How many times have you let your credit / debit cards out of your sight in a restaurant or shop? What do you do with the paper receipts, carbons and credit card statements?
26 Jul 2011
The trend towards recycling whether residential or in business has potentially given rise to an increase in identity theft. Whether it is the curb-side recycling bins outside your home, or specific re-cycling areas within / outside business premises, in town centres or other public places, the drive to sort the rubbish and place it in categorised containers means that the job of the identity thief has just got easy. Without realising what we are doing we are collecting together all the "good stuff" and it is no longer mixed-in with the soiled rubbish.
How do you dispose of the following: -
• Travel records
• Credit card statements
• Pre-approved credit offers
• Tax information
• Pay stubs
• Bank & Financial statements
• Personal contact, Employee, customer, supplier details
• Strategic planning information
Looking after the environment is a good thing, however sometimes well intentioned actions have un-intended consequences. Using a shredder prior to disposal is your key weapon against identity theft and the resulting pieces are easy to mulch!
Image: Phiseksit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
19 Jul 2011
In the third of our features on the “Top 14 Financial Frauds of All Time” we turn our attention to my personal favourite; “The Eiffel Tower Sale” of 1925
This scam involved “Count” Victor Lustig who created a false identity for himself that authorised him to sell the Eiffel Tower for scrap. Lustig then did just that, securing bribes from two companies worth over $200,000 to scrap the famous Parisian landmark. Once he had the money he left France, returning to the USA with the proceeds. Many will see this story as humorous and the good “Count” as a loveable rogue. However many people fall victim to this form of identity theft. No-one is exempt; From the grandmother answering the door to the would be sales person to Sven-Goran Eriksson (former England football team manager) and the North Korean government, both of whom recently fell prey to the same mining scam.
This form of fraud often results in financial loss, credit rating issues and misery as the victim tries to correct the resulting mess. Always thoroughly check the identity of someone you don’t know before entering into any arrangement that makes you vulnerable to fraud.
5 Jul 2011
Twitter is a great source of information if you know how to use it. I recently came across a blog via a Tweet entitled “Identity Theft Part 2 – 5 More Identity Theft Myths Unveiled” The author, Robert Sicilliano outlines 5 common myths that lull the unwary into a false sense of security.
Awareness is the starting point for mitigation so here are 5 key complacencies to be aware of
1. My information in the public domain isn’t valuable
2. If I don’t use the internet I’m OK
3. I only share my details with my close connections on social media sites
4. Shopping / banking online is less secure than the high street or mall
5. Shredding everything gives me total protection
As a company that markets paper shredders you may be surprised at the inclusion of the last point. However we aren’t saying don’t shred; quite the opposite. However you also need to be aware of the first 4 points and take appropriate mitigation actions; be careful what you share online, be vigilant when paying by credit or debit card in a store or restaurant and be aware that your personal details are held by many institutions and are potentially at risk.
30 Jun 2011
Have you ever tried to buy something for the first time and found the choice of products completely overwhelming? My first purchase of a WiFi router springs to mind. It was several years ago now and whilst I wanted the convenience of wireless surfing in my home, the technology and its terminology were all foreign to me. I started by browsing Amazon and was soon overwhelmed with the choice. I was so startled I didn’t buy anything!
A recent key insight here at Rexel was that our stapling range is also confusing. Stapling, what could be easier? But that’s the problem. We had made the assumption that because we knew why we had a product in the range so would everyone else! When we checked this out with you the user our assumption proved to be incorrect.
Anyone browsing the Rexel website recently will have noticed a brand new approach to our stapling pages. We have simplified our range into 4 easy to understand areas; Light Use, Everyday, Heavy Duty and Specialist / DIY. Each category is colour coded and has a simple description designed to direct browsers to where they want to go. We are currently in the process of reflecting this change on our packaging and will be working with our retail partners to have it displayed on their websites, in store and within catalogues. We trust you will appreciate the change!
15 Jun 2011
For many buying a paper shredder can be a confusing business. There is bin size, number of papers a machine can shred in a single go and then there is the security level. The first two are really about convenience and the number of shared users but shredder security can be a really key issue.
Identity theft is on the radar of the world’s legislators; US legislation obliges anyone employing one person or more to look after sensitive information. Failure could incur fines and leave the individual or company open to being sued. In Europe the relevant EU Directive dates back to 1995 and mandates a framework of protection for personal information. In the UK, failure to treat sensitive data correctly can result in a fine up to £500,000 and if operating in sensitive sectors there are more stringent penalties.
Paper shredders are given a security grading based on the type of cut used in destroying a document. The grading starts at S2, a ribbon cut for general day to day shredding of non sensitive documents. S3 machines give a confetti cut suitable for personal / strategic information. S4 machines provide a micro cut for highly confidential information such as financial data, personnel records etc. Finally S5 shredders deliver a super micro cut providing a security level for top secret or highly confidential information, e.g. government or military data.
Deploying shredders in key locations around your business is an effective destruction strategy. Rexel offers a comprehensive range of paper shredders from S2 to S5 security levels.
10 Jun 2011
In this blog we have been offering opinion on the issues associated with identity theft and advice to business and individuals on appropriate mitigating actions. Despite our heightened awareness of the issues there was still a feeling that identity theft happens to someone else. That all changed on 9th June when someone rang the office of ACCO Brands’ Chairman and CEO in the USA claiming to be ACCO’s European Senior Vice President of Marketing and requesting personal contact details of a former senior employee of the company. Fortunately the chairman’s secretary, who has met the individual in question, was sufficiently suspicious and requested the support of a European PA to validate the identity of the caller. This action quickly established the call as a crude attempt to impersonate a member of the ACCO Brands team and a potentially damaging situation was averted.
In a recent article, written for the magazine European CEO entitled “How Safe is Your Business”, we outlined 6 actions designed to reduce the risk of falling prey to identity theft and corporate fraud. They are –
- Always verify the identity of customers, suppliers, business partners and employees
- Review online security arrangements; a firewall and wireless encryption are simple steps. More complex businesses dealing in eCommerce will need to consider secure payment systems and compliance with local legislation around the handling and storage of customer details.
- Review all your information, not just paper-based. Think about all the data held by various departments whether in files, on PCs, etc.
- Classify the data, e.g. general, sensitive and confidential.
- Define how each classification should be stored, accessed and destroyed.
- Never allow company information (even seemingly innocuous things like company letterheads) to be thrown in the bin.
The first action can seem trivial but as our recent experience demonstrates one can never be too careful! Identity theft is a serious and growing issue and the consequences can be very damaging. Take action now to reduce your risk of falling prey to the fraudsters!
Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
7 Jun 2011
Consumer insight doesn’t just apply to new product development. At Rexel we try to use insight in everything we do. So what lies behind the recent launch of the competition “My Fantasy Stapler”?
Our research has revealed some fascinating facts; most office workers regard their stapler as just that – theirs! There is an attachment to the product that can become very protective. During the recent recession many staplers were taken home by staff made redundant because they believed them to be personal property. The fascination with the stapler doesn’t end there though. Many people customise the product; we have a dedicated Leicester City supporter in the office and his stapler proclaims his allegiance.
My Fantasy Stapler is a celebration of the special bond between the user and the product. The competition invites users of stapling equipment to indulge the bond and use their imagination to create a customised stapler that is way beyond the norm. Introducing the social media Facebook and Twitter provides a voting platform leading to the award of the prizes; Samsung Galaxy Tab. Why not test your imagination and get your friends to vote you a Rexel “My Fantasy Stapler” winner?
Rexel has a full range of stapling and punch equipment and has just launched a new range of easy on the hand, low force staplers.
2 Jun 2011
In the second of our features on the “Top 14 Financial Frauds of All Time” we turn our attention to “The Wright Panic” of 1900.
The draw of a quick killing can lure the best of us. The old adage “if something looks to good to be true, it probably is” applies to this case! The Wright story is one of a series of companies that on the face of it looked profitable and had credibility because the rich, titled and famous were persuaded to not only invest but also to sit on the boards. In reality the companies simply moved money between them and when the money finally stopped circulating the shareholders were left out of pocket.
This is an extreme case of using others identity to lend credibility to a scam and illustrates the need to thoroughly check any venture. Statistics show identity theft is a crime on the rise at a personal and a business level. One of the simple steps anyone can take is to destroy letters or documents containing personal or sensitive information.
Rexel has a full range of paper shredders that are ideal for the home or business.