… It’s the law

It’s the law

Crissa Shoemaker
6/1/2005 – Don’t have a paper shredder? It’s time to invest in one.

Starting today, a little known rule in the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act goes into effect, requiring anyone who has at least one employee – be it a secretary, a babysitter or someone who just mows the lawn – to protect that person’s personal credit information.

“If you have a small business and you have two people working for you, you’re responsible for their information,” said Drew Friedman, operations manager for Shred One Security Corp., a Huntingdon Valley company that provides secure document destruction.

Privacy laws like FACTA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act have caused a boom in the document destruction industry, said Robert Johnson, executive director of the National Association for Information Destruction.

Established companies are growing about 25 percent a year, Johnson said, and the association has more than tripled in membership over three years.

“Our members who provide document destruction services will see a continuation of growth,” he said. “Laws like HIPAA and Gramm-Leach-Bliley, even the Enron-[Arthur] Andersen incident, they’ve all led to a protracted growth of our industry over the past five or six years.”

The credit law is more widely recognized for giving everyone access to their credit report for free once a year. That provision has been slowly introduced around the country; Pennsylvanians will be able to get a free report starting Sept. 1.

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Healthcare providers and financial institutions already are required by law to destroy personal information. The FACTA disposal rule will cover just about everyone else who has consumer information for any business purpose. Not complying with FACTA could mean a $2,500 fine. On the other hand, shredding services start around $60.

“What you are targeting are automobile dealerships, appliance stores, furniture rental stores, apartment complexes” and anyone else that does background or credit checks, Johnson said. “It’s these other kind of businesses that handle personal information that may have not been on anyone’s radar screen up until now.”

Shred One, which started a little more than a year ago, has seen business grow exponentially, Friedman said. And as more people become aware of the FACTA regulations, more people are asking about the company’s services.

“As a company, we’re trying to educate the general public, the business owners and consumers alike, to let them know these laws are out there,” Friedman said.

Shred One provides locked boxes to its customers to discard papers, then comes periodically with a shredding truck to dispose of them. The truck shreds the documents on site in a contained space, then goes to a secure recycling facility. The system, Friedman said, reduces the pairs of eyes that look at personal information and is quicker and easier than using personal paper shredders.

“The protection of consumer information is being brought to the next level,” Friedman said. “It’s to safeguard the consumer. We need this.”

Crissa Shoemaker can be reached at 215-949-4192 or cshoemaker@phillyBurbs.com.

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