What do I need to be shredding at home?

According to The Economist, businesses ranked your personal data as the most sought-after resource (even more valuable than oil).  Through recently passed regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), companies are supposed to be more transparent about how they’re managing your data, but, more importantly how are you managing who has access to your personal data? 

With the GDPR having gone into effect in May 2018, EU based companies AND companies who could potentially be marketing to EU residents were supposed to be taking a hard look at what they were doing with their customer data. Companies needed to understand how they were storing customer data, how they were using it, and who was accessing it. According to TrustArc, in a recent survey of 600 US and UK companies, only 20% of the companies surveyed stated they had completed their GDPR implementations.   

GDPR is not the end of the story when it comes to how companies are using your data, especially for US companies. California passed legislation called the California Protection Act (CPA) that makes it easier for consumers to sue companies after a data breach. The CPA is slated to go into effect in January of 2020 but does not go as far as some legislators had hoped. Some legislators wanted the law to require internet service providers to disclose to their customers if their browser activity has been sold to third parties.  

So what do the CPA and the GDPR have to do with whether you should be shredding things at home? These are examples of what legislative bodies are doing in an effort to keep your data and information safe. But if you’re not taking your own precautions to protect how your identity is accessed, the legislative measures aren’t protective enough to limit how your information is being accessed. 

Do you know how much information is on the direct mail you get at home? Have you ever thought to shred that? Have you ever considered the “mass mailing” from your bank could be just the ticket that someone would need to get access to your accounts? We know you’re already shredding your bank statements and credit card applications, right? But what about that direct mail piece from your car dealership notifying you your lease is about to expire, what useful information could someone possibly get from that? 

Let’s set up a possible scenario with your dealership. The identity thief fishes your direct mail piece from your dealership out of your recycling bin. The thief calls your dealership and says they got this notification in the mail, but they don’t have time to come in and look at a new vehicle.  The thief asks if they can talk to someone in sales. The thief gets the salesperson to work up an estimate of a new vehicle. The salesperson explains to the thief that he or she can get an estimate, but they’d need to run a new credit check because it’s been 3 years since they’ve leased the vehicle. There would be a lot of stop gaps that would have to fail, but a smooth talking person that has enough of your data could likely get this far in a new vehicle negotiation. And, if the thief wants more data about you, they can probably ask leading questions to get answers about what you put on your credit application for your salary history or length of employment. 

While a lot of us have turned our attention to what’s being delivered through our email inbox, we shouldn’t ignore what’s coming to us in our physical mailboxes. It might seem like putting your mail in your recycling bin is the right thing to do for the planet, but what information are you leaving out for anyone to access? And if you’re shredding your mail with your hand shredder at home, does your city accept your shredded material? Will it end up in the landfill anyway? 

If you had a biodegradable bag at home that sat next to your recycling bin for depositing direct mail, and any other paper that had your identifiable information on it, would you use it? With our #ShredRight4Good bag program, you can do just that. And when you buy a bag through the #ShredRight 4Good program, you have the chance to support a local cause. For instance, the Lakeville Band is selling #ShredRight4Good bags in our community to raise funds for their band uniforms and trips. For each $20 bag the band sells, the band gets $10. 

What do you do when your bag is full? You can bring your full bag to any of the Shred Right shred events held around our communities. Want to know how your school or organization can start selling Shred Right bags? Contact Cindy Miller at Shred Right for more information: cindy@rohnind.com .