As the risk of security breaches continues to become more prevalent, it is increasingly important that consumers and organizations protect their confidential information. While many people and businesses believe they take the appropriate steps to safeguard sensitive data, they are unaware of simple ways to truly protect themselves from the risk of fraud and identity theft that could lead to serious financial and reputational damage.
"International Fraud Awareness Week provides a great opportunity to raise awareness of how vital it is to protect yourself and your information," said Michael Collins, Shred-it Regional Vice President. "From old tax returns and bank statements, to credit card offers and pay stubs, Shred-it wants to educate consumers on ways to ensure confidential information is safe."
How to Protect Yourself at Home According to the 2013 "Identity Fraud Report" released by Javelin Strategy & Research, the number of identity fraud incidences continues to increase with approximately 12.6 million Americans becoming victims of identity theft in 2012, resulting in $21 billion worth of theft. As the number of identity fraud reports continues to climb, it is imperative that people take preventative measures to safeguard their personal data to prevent fraud and identity theft.
The first step in preventing fraud is recognizing personal patterns of behavior that puts private information at risk. This could be something as simple as leaving credit card receipts at restaurants or carrying multiple forms of identification, such as a Passport or Social Security card, which are unnecessary for daily transactions. Engaging in these sort of behaviors make a consumer's confidential information more susceptible to being stolen.
In addition to altering personal behaviors, consumers should engage in protective measures such as conducting a periodic credit check to monitor for any abnormal activity, frequently changing passwords and ensuring all security software is up to date. However, the only 100 percent way to protect information is to participate in Community Shred-it events. These events give individuals the opportunity to have their confidential documents destroyed on site, free of charge or for a minimal donation to a local charity.
How to Protect Your Business Despite regular news reports of businesses being impacted by data breaches, organizations from across the U.S. continue to be plagued by the loss of sensitive information. Safely and securely storing and destroying printed documents and any information stored on electronic media should be made a priority. Not doing so can lead to identity theft and fraud, which can result in serious financial impact, reputational damage, loss of customers, employee turnover and disengagement, and a decrease in competitive advantage.
The 2013 Security Tracker - an annual survey conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of Shred-it - provides detailed insight as to what businesses of all sizes are doing (or not doing) to protect their companies and customers from the threat of fraud and identity theft. The most surprising finding was that businesses of all sizes lack awareness about proper information security policies and procedures, and are not regularly training their staff on these information security processes.
"It is imperative that companies remain vigilant when it comes to information security and take proactive steps to protect against data breaches," adds Collins. "A crucial first step is improving awareness of policies and procedures."
Employees need to be made aware that data being lost or stolen can result in financial impact and harm to the credibility of an organization. The second step is the actual implementation of policies and procedures by enforcing sensitive data safeguarding as a company-wide practice. As the ways companies do business continue to evolve, the development and implementation of a proactive plan for safeguarding information becomes increasingly important. If businesses want to remain competitive and profitable, they must safely and securely destroy documents and electronic media to protect customers and employees.
For more information about ways businesses and consumers can protect themselves from fraud and identity theft, or to take a free risk assessment, visit www.shredit.com.
About Shred-it Shred-it is a world-leading information destruction company providing information destruction services that ensure the security and integrity of our clients' private information. The company operates 140 service locations in 16 countries worldwide, servicing more than 150,000 global, national and local businesses, including the world's top intelligence and security agencies, more than 500 police forces, 1,500 hospitals, 8,500 bank branches and 1,200 universities and colleges. For more information, please visit www.shredit.com.