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.
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.
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
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.
24 May 2011
Recently published statistics in the USA indicate that 3.7% of American adults have been victims of identity theft crime (Federal Trade Commission); In Europe that would indicate that 14.8 million adults have fallen victim to fraudsters. Research by the British Federation of Small Businesses claims that 5% of businesses have experienced corporate ID fraud; across the EU that’s 1 million businesses in the SME sector alone!
Corporate ID fraud is big and can be expensive, both in direct costs and time taken to resolve the consequences. There are many ways it can happen; fraudsters changing companies’ details, hijacking of web domains, fraudulent bank mandates and obtaining discarded papers in the rubbish. The impact can be considerable, damaging a company’s reputation, credit rating and profitability.
There are some simple steps that can greatly reduce the risks:
1. Verify the identity of customers, suppliers, business partners and employees.
2. Review online security arrangements; a firewall and wireless encryption are simple steps.
3. Review all your information, not just paper-based.
4. Classify the data, e.g. general, sensitive and confidential.
5. Define how each classification should be stored, accessed and destroyed.
6. Never allow company information (even seemingly innocuous things like company letterheads) to be thrown in the bin.
10 May 2011
We recently came across a fascinating blog entitled “Top 14 Financial Frauds of All Time”. As the title suggests the blog features 14 audacious frauds from history. Written in a witty manner the piece is highly amusing but underneath the light hearted stories lays a warning. At least 4 of the Top 14 feature identity theft as part of the scam.
The first scam that caught our attention was The Diamond Necklace Hoax of 1785. The story features a cleric in love with someone he believed to be Queen Marie Antoinette. Unfortunately his mistress was not the queen but a look a like who duped the cleric into purchasing a beautiful necklace using the queen’s credit line as a gift. The story does not have a happy ending; the ensuing scandal was a trigger for the French revolution.
This is an extreme case of identity theft but the statistics show this 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.
Top 14 Financial Frauds of All Time - http://www.bnet.com/photos/top-14-financial-frauds-of-all-time/6195447
9 May 2011
2011 has been labelled by at least one commentator as the year of the breach! There seems to have been a constant stream of hacks, breaches and threats. So far this year major companies such as RSA, PayPal, Visa, Mastercard and Amazon have all been the target of hackers. Most recently Sony announced that its consumer cloud service has been hacked and as a result as many as 77 million users may have become potential identity theft victims with vulnerable data including credit card information.
Amidst all these hi-tech assaults it is easy to lose sight of the basics. Without thinking many people become more vulnerable to fraud, whether at home or work, by the simple act of throwing away paper containing sensitive information; name, address, sensitive company information and banking details. Whilst on a British Airways flight recently I noted a statistic in the Business Life magazine; 10% of British bank customers keep their PIN in their wallet with their cash / credit cards. Whilst there is much for companies to do to ensure the safety of all our data, we can each take mitigating action to ensure we don’t fall victim to identity theft from the old fashioned methods!
Shredding won’t solve all the identity theft issues but it certainly helps and Rexel has a complete range of paper shredders to choose from!
3 May 2011
So what’s this blog about and why are we doing it?
Firstly, we aim to take you behind the scenes at Rexel and highlight the “why” behind the things that we do. At Rexel we use a process called consumer insight; its purpose is to bring greater relevance for the purchaser or user of our products; whether it is designing the latest paper shredder or producing new packaging for our stapling range.
Secondly, we are focussed on the issues that drive the market place for our products and we want to share information that may help you to avoid some potential pitfalls or keep up to date with latest thinking. For example, data protection and identity fraud are serious issues for individuals and business whilst managing human activity to be kind to the environment is a serious concern for us all.
We trust these blogs will be informative and enjoyable. If you would like to leave us your feedback, please visit the Rexel Facebook page (Rexel_En), tweet us @Rexel_En or leave a comment here.