|6/12/2005 – The humble shredder may turn out to be a hot item around the office in 2005.|
As of June 1, a new federal rule requires businesses and individuals “to take appropriate measures to dispose of sensitive information derived from consumer reports,” according to the Federal Trade Commission. Appropriate measures are defined as shredding or burning of paper documents and the erasing or similar destruction of digital materials.
Improper disposal could carry fines of as much as $1,000 per violation.
The new measures, which are designed to stem the growing occurrences of identity theft, are the result of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003.
Consumer reports in the form of background and credit checks are used in a variety of businesses, especially banks, mortgage brokers and car dealerships, to assess an individual’s financial fitness.
Some businesses use the reports for pre-employment screening, as well.
At Free Bridge Auto Sales, President Chip Fadeley said the changes wouldn’t alter the company’s procedures, where a vehicle buyer’s documents are kept “under lock and key” for one year before being shredded by a manager.
The documents produced for those who don’t make a purchase are immediately shredded, Fadeley said.
While the law seems to have come into existence with little fanfare, firms specializing in document destruction are hoping word of the statute’s existence will soon come to light.
“A lot of people don’t know about the law,” said Kevin Martin, owner of the Charlottesville-based KMX Mobile Security Shredding.
Martin, who is expecting to see an increase in work as more become aware of the law, said he first heard of the statute from the National Association for Information Destruction, a trade group.
Mike Kruse, the owner of Evergreen Recycling, another Charlottesville document destruction firm, said he was aware the change was coming, but did not realize it went into effect on June 1.
“I haven’t seen a surge so far,” Kruse said, adding that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if there was an uptick soon.
At Staples, the office supply chain store, spokeswoman Sharyn Frankel said sales of shredders had been strong for the past two years, and “we definitely expect the trend to continue due to [the new statute].”
“People continue to become more aware of the problem of identity theft,” Frankel said.
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