Shredding events. Maybe you’ve seen your bank, credit union or even your local municipality hosting one. They are growing more prevelant as individuals and organizations are becoming aware of the ever-increasing occurence of identity theft and of how shredding is an effective measure to prevent it. So, what are shredding events? Are they safe? How do they work? Perhaps you are with an organization and have considered sponsoring a shred event but don’t know how to organize such an event.
You've got questions. We've got answers. Please read on.
Why shred your documents?
Incidents of identity theft are on the rise. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s national ranking of consumer complaints for 2014 released in 2015, identity theft crowned the top of the list, with more than 332,000 cases reported in 2014 alone. That number rose to more than 490,000 the following year.
As identity thieves can do their damage with as little information as a name and an address, not to mention social security and bank account numbers, one of the best ways to minimize the risk of identity theft is to destroy all records bearing such information rather than to simply toss it in the waste can. If just thrown out with yesterday’s garbage, that trashed information could become the proverbial other man’s treasure and bring someone’s undoing. Think bank accounts, HIPAA, credit ratings, client records, corporate espionage, etc. All it takes is a dumpster-diver, armed with the right data and know-how, and next thing you know, you not only have stolen identities, but possibly accounts drained and in some cases, heavy fines for HIPAA violations.
People often throw away such information just because its quick, cheap and convenient. Buying a shredder or scheduling a shredding service provider to come by your location requires time, energy and money. That’s why shred events are beautiful things for people who might otherwise toss their records. They offer a quick, cheap and convenient way to mitigate their chances of becoming victims — through shredding their sensitive documents.
What are shred events?
Shred events, called everything from shred fests, to shred-a-thons, to shred-it events are community shred events typically hosted by local organizations or businesses.
At such an event, typically a mobile shredding unit is positioned onsite in a parking lot where event patrons arrive with their documents and a shred unit attendant takes the material and sends it through the shredder — the patron witnessing the whole process.
If hosted by a business, often the shredding service will be free to the patron as the event is likely either a marketing effort by the business or a value-added service to customers but most definitely is an event raising awareness toward identity theft and it's prevention. You will see banks, credit unions and other financial institutions and even city or county governments sponsoring these events.
If a non-profit or charity is sponsoring the event, the service may be free or patrons may be asked to give a donation in exchange for the service, the proceeds then going toward the organization’s cause.
In any case, the shred events offer their patrons a convenient, cheap and safe way to dispose of their private information and protect their identities. These events also are super green as they are an excellent way to preserve the environment by recycling paper and thence save trees and other natural resources.
Are shred events safe?
This question is good as you might be concerned about a stranger handling your private information. The answer is, it depends.
Here are some things to look for to see if the event is safe.
Can you witness the shredding process?
Are you able to watch your documents being shredded? Typically, shred events will have a mobile shred unit onsite with an attendant to help. Not only that, often the unit itself will have an onboard camera with a viewing screen allowing you and the attendant to view the paper as it is torn to oblivion. This is the safest arrangement.
Should you arrive to shred event to only see someone collecting documents and simply stashing them into a vehicle, ostensibly to haul to an offsite location for destruction, this you should regard more suspiciously as the person may in fact be taking the records to his own lair for perusal and use. Then again, it may be a legitimate shredding company, but offsite shredding by nature is not as secure as onsite. Click here to see why.
Is the shredding company reputable and certified?
If you are unsure, search the name of the shred company online to see if it’s a reputable outfit and be sure to check the company’s certifications, for example, whether it is NAID-certified, or a if it’s member of a shredding organization like MSA. Such organizations require certain protocol to be followed and sometimes conduct surprise audits to ensure that member companies uphold the standards that keep you and your information safe.
How do shred events work?
As I mentioned before, shred events are typically organized by businesses or organizations, often as a freebie service for clientele or for fundraising — the service being rendered on a donation basis.
This is how these shred fests work:
- 1. The business/organization sponsors and schedules the event.
- 2. On day slated for the shredding event, the mobile shred unit arrives and sets up, sliding the bin chute out and producing locking, rolling shred bins ready to receive patron documents to be destroyed. Sometimes, if the event is held on a sunny, hot day, the shredding company may raise an awning to provide the attendant and patrons shade.
- 3. Customers arrive with documents which then the attendant helps to unload from vehicles and empty into shred bins.
- 4. Patrons watch as the attendant sends their documents up the chute, and look on and listen as the papers are shredded to bits.
Where and when to find a shred event
If you are looking for a shred event near you, go to your nearest computer or mobile device and search “shredding events near me,” and see what the “Google machine” will deliver. You can also click here to see if any are scheduled nearby. Otherwise here are some tips:
When: You’ll often find shredding events taking place on Saturday mornings and lasting a few hours. These events tend to be more common around and shortly after tax season as by then folks are trying to get rid of older or outdated tax records.
Where: As mentioned before, shred events tend to be hosted by financial institutions. Ask your bank, credit union, financial advisor or CPA. Who knows? They may themselves be sponsoring one. Otherwise, you’ll typically see these events in large public areas such as shopping center, school and church parking lots.
Hopefully, you've found these answers and tips and answers useful. If not, feel free to give us a call or send us an email by clicking the button below.
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R.K. Black, Inc. is an Oklahoma City-based leading provider of office technology solutions to small and medium-sized businesses in and around Oklahoma and Kansas. We specialize in everything business technology from copier, fax, printer and scanner technology to document management, onsite paper shredding services, VoIP phone systems and managed IT support to video surveillance solutions.
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