VT Law Boosts Info Destruction Firms

February 05 , 2007 in SecurShred in the News

Rutland Herald (VT)
Author: BRUCE EDWARDS Herald Staff
Section: BUSINESS

Vermont’s new law to protect consumers from identity theft is a boon to companies that deal in document destruction.

The Protection of Personal Information Act, which took effect Jan. 1, encompasses the Document Safe Destruction Act, Security Breach Notice Act and Social Security Number Protection Act.

The document destruction law requires businesses to destroy or arrange for the destruction of a customer’s personal information when that information is no longer to be retained by the business. Personal information includes signature, Social Security number, physical characteristics, passport number, driver’s license or state identification card number, insurance policy number, bank account number, credit and debit card numbers, and any other financial information.

“Vermont is doing something about the fastest-growing crime in the United States,” said David Van Mullen of SecurShred, a South Burlington company that specializes in document destruction.

Identity theft is a growing problem in the country, according to a 2006 Identity Fraud Survey Report from the Better Business Bureau. Over the past three years, more than 28 million people were victims of identity theft, totaling $164 billion.

But the true number of identity theft victims as tracked by the Federal Trade Commission is much higher, said Julie Brill, an assistant attorney general with the Vermont Attorney General’s Office.

“Everyone acknowledges that those numbers also drastically underestimate the true amount of identity theft that affects Vermonters because the Federal Trade Commission doesn’t receive reports about all that’s going on and neither do we,” Brill said. “There’s no one agency that is the centralized collection point for the identity theft that might be occurring.”

As identify theft balloons, so has the document destruction business.

“It’s steadily growing for sure,” said Van Mullen, SecurShred’s vice president of sales and marketing. “The service area is growing and the number of customers is growing.”

From one self-contained shredding truck six years ago, SecurShred now has four trucks and a dozen employees. Van Mullen said the company’s statewide client list includes the state and federal governments, hospitals, law firms, financial institutions and individuals.

Each of the company’s trucks is equipped with an industrial shredding machine that is capable of quickly destroying large volumes of documents.

Van Mullen said all shredded paper is recycled.

SecurShred also picks up and destroys electronic media at its South Burlington headquarters. Electronic documents include computer disks, hard drives, video tape, microfiche and compact disks.

One of SecurShred’s newest customers is the University of Vermont. UVM was shredding its own documents but that became too laborious and time consuming, said David Martin, UVM’s director of procurement.

UVM documents are held for seven years before being destroyed, resulting in a tremendous amount of paper.

“We’re talking about tons of paper that needs to be destroyed,” Martin said. “I would literally have to take an assistant or someone and go down to the shredder and go to work and it could take days.”

UVM pays SecurShred based on the number of “banker’s boxes” of documents to be destroyed. At a 75 box minimum, UVM pays $5 a box. Destruction of electronic media is 95 cents a pound and $6 per computer hard drive.

SecurShred is the only company in the state that’s certified by the National Association for Information Destruction.

Gauthier Trucking Co. and Archivesone, both in Essex, offer document destruction services. Neither company was available for comment.

A second part of the state’s Protection of Personal Information Act requires companies and government agencies to notify consumers in the event of a security breach. A third section of the law prohibits certain business uses of Social Security numbers.

For consumers, the Attorney General’s Office has these tips to protect against identity theft:

– Review credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus once a year, which is free for all Vermont residents. – Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. – Secure personal information in your home. – Ask about information security procedures in your workplace. – Don’t carry your Social Security card with you. Leave it in a secure place. – Don’t give out your Social Security number unless it is absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible. – Don’t give out personal information over the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or are sure you know who you’re dealing with. – Guard your mail and trash from theft. – Destroy offers of credit received in the mail that you don’t respond to; you may choose to “opt-out” of receiving free offers of credit. – Carry only the identification information and the number of credit/debit cards that you actually need. – Pay attention to your billing cycles – follow up with creditors if bills don’t arrive on time. – Be wary of promotional scams. – Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work. – Notify your credit card company if you are planning to travel out of state.

Contact Bruce Edwards at bruce.edwards@rutlandherald.com.

Copyright, 2007, Rutland Herald
Record Number: 702050317