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February 2012
Protecting Proprietary Information from Prying Eyes
By Suzanne Fulton

     People want your company’s information—some not in a good way. They want to peek at your trade secrets or steal your customers’ bank and credit card numbers or your employees’ Social Security numbers and more.

     The Federal Trade Commission recently reported that identity theft is the number one most common complaint in America and more than 72 percent of identity theft stems from the paper stream.

 

Ø   Are you and your employees making it easy to pull confidential data from your trash or recycling bin?

Ø   Do your employees think it is too much trouble to separate out the sensitive from the non-sensitive paper for shredding?

Ø   Would you trust every office employee to make a smart decision consistently about what is or is not sensitive?

Ø   Are your employees even aware of the importance of ensuring that propriety information is destroyed properly?

 

     As an executive, you may know that all businesses in the United States—including home-based operations—are required by law to properly protect and dispose of confidential information. Do you or your administrative staff know what constitutes “properly dispose”?

 

Facilitating Legal Compliance

     The North Carolina Identity Theft Protection Act (2005) requires businesses to take reasonable measures to protect against unauthorized use of employee and customer information, including “burning, pulverizing, or shredding of papers…so that information cannot be practicably read or reconstructed.”

     Of equal importance in the Act is that it stipulates that businesses must have policies and procedures in place to protect against unauthorized access to private information. Without secure destruction procedures in place, consider what might happen to your organization when private information comes before the eyes of a disgruntled and revengeful employee or even an unethical visitor or cleaning person.

     PROSHRED is a 20-year-old national franchise that pioneered mobile shredding, making document destruction a secure, easy and non-obtrusive process for its clients. PROSHRED is the first and only secure on-site document shredding company in America to meet the rigorous standards of the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) 9001 certification for quality management and customer satisfaction.

     PROSHRED also holds industry certification from National Association for Information Destruction. The corporate office maintains that the company “is the most secure, convenient and cost-effective method for destroying and recycling confidential documents and materials.”

     PROSHRED Charlotte, owned by David Wright, has been serving the Piedmont region of North and South Carolina for six years. As a franchisee to a professionally run, well-established national entity, Wright’s company uses procedures that have been proven to be effective. His company, like all PROSHRED franchisees, is subject to regular audits by ISO as well as by the franchiser’s corporate representatives.

     Wright also brings solid business management experience to the table. Prior to purchasing the PROSHRED Charlotte franchise, he owned and operated three Jersey Mike Sub Shops for eight years after his stint in the corporate world. He sold the sub shop and bought the PROSHRED Charlotte franchise because he preferred a business-to-business type of enterprise.

     To devise the best arrangement to protect your files through shredding, Wright’s company can send their customer service professional to your offices to learn your needs and devise a solution that suits you.

     “We look at the client’s use of their documents and provide advice, always trying to save the client money,” he explains.

     “Sometimes we help a client start from scratch,” says Wright. “For a legal office we worked with recently, we educated the office manager, who had no process in place to secure the documents.”

     Destruction and shredding of legal record documents is generally essential in order to meet the requirements of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA).

     Some companies ask PROSHRED to be a vendor because their in-house shredding policies are not followed, as illustrated by comments of Brett Wilson of Custom Manufacturing & Engineering:

     “The service that PROSHRED provides has saved me personally several hours per month. When I look back at the way we did our shredding before, I just cringe. It was a central point for failure.

     “If our one shredding machine was busy or not convenient, I worried that documents would get put in a stack somewhere or thrown out with the regular trash. Now, not only have we taken the menial task away, but we have the peace of mind that confidential documents are disposed of properly.”

     PROSHRED Charlotte’s primary function is to perform on-site shredding, but customers also have the option of dropping off hard drives, documents and CDs at the company site on Clanton Road or at the regular community shred events in which PROSHRED Charlotte participates. In fact, Wright is looking at moving his company to a larger, still centrally located site so he can better accommodate those who prefer to drop off documents and computers.

     “It’s more often residents than businesses who bring their documents to the site,” says Wright. “An especially busy time for personal and community shredding are April and May, after taxes are paid,” he adds.

 

The Process

     PROSHRED Charlotte customer service professionals are trained to guide your administrative staff to help your company establish and maintain a process to keep your records secure. When a PROSHRED Charlotte employee responds to a request for a consult or pick up, he or she appears wearing an identifying badge as well as a uniform.

     All employees have been thoroughly trained, background-checked, drug-tested, and have passed a rigorous annual certification exam and are bonded. Each customer service professional signs a Customer Confidentiality Agreement pledging to protect each customer’s sensitive material and maintain total confidentiality.

     Nevertheless, in PROSHRED Charlotte’s default process, it is you or your employee who is the last one to touch your company’s documents before shredding happens.

     And it’s not just paper documents that PROSHRED Charlotte can securely destroy. The powerful teeth of the machines easily chew up CDs, DVDs, microfilm and more—even bulldog binder clips. Sensors are advanced and, if warranted, the machine will automatically reverse then resume the flow several times until a potential jam is prevented.

     For destruction of hard drives and other computer equipment as well as digital photo copy machines, a PROSHRED Charlotte technician comes to your facility, collects, removes and secures your equipment. They remove and physically destroy the hard drives, rendering the data completely unrecoverable.

     The process can even be completed at your facility. The remaining hardware is de-manufactured, sorted by material type and then recycled by partners who are certified to comply with federal and state electronic waste regulations. More details about the process are available on the company’s website.

     For document destruction, special collection containers are brought to your site, designed to be a secure repository where no eyes can view the contents. Once the paper is dumped in, only the PROSHRED technician can unlock the container door or lid. The bins of paper are taken to your parking lot to the branded truck and shredded on the spot within the vehicle. Company staff are welcome to monitor the whole process and even view the shred job going on inside via a closed circuit monitor mounted on the truck.

     Recycling is the next step in PROSHRED’s process. Their truck drivers offload the shredded material at a nearby recycling center, which separates out the paper from non-paper and forwards it to a mill. Tissue paper and brown paper towels are the most common product produced by the mill from the office paper mix.

     To enable you prove to authorities that the shred occurred, your company receives a signed certificate of destruction and, for clients with an ongoing pick up schedule, an environmental certificate reporting about the number of trees saved via the recycling.

 

ROI and Other Benefits

     PROSHRED corporate claims that the average cost for your own staff to shred 100 lbs. of paper in your office once per month would be $171.12. Engaging PROSHRED Charlotte affords you peace of mind, lawful compliance and efficiencies. It costs about the same as contracting with a coffee service.

     Wright notes also, “Personnel become more productive on other matters as a result. They are pleased to see the PROSHRED Charlotte technicians arrive.”

     Part of PROSHRED Charlottes’s host of ancillary services is training your employees and leaving behind a DVD about the procedures to ensure that new employees are able to learn the steps and value.

     For medical offices and other customers that must comply with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) regulations, PROSHRED Charlotte offers a compliance package that includes an employee training DVD, a generic procedure with employee acknowledgement form, and locked shredding containers for an on-site shredding service. In the case of medical records being discarded, it is vital that the record destruction process also be managed with utmost care and professionalism.

     It is law that health care organizations handle PHI (Protected Health Information) patient medical records and documents with the highest regard for patient privacy. HIPAA requires that this protected medical information be properly destroyed prior to disposal.

     Changes to HIPAA put more emphasis on the need for covered entities, including medical clinics, to train their employees on the proper disposal of PHI. Failures to provide such training could be considered willful neglect and result in the highest level of mandatory fines.

     Organizations of all types and sizes in the greater Charlotte area use PROSHRED Charlotte. Service can be tailored to the needs of the company. Larger firms are likely to schedule recurring pickups/destruction of their documents; smaller entities usually request once-a-month service or “as needed.”

     Companies also have the option to engage PROSHRED Charlotte to pick up all office paper—whether or not in the secured containers. Such a “Shred All Program” costs only a couple of dollars more, reports Wright.

     Wright points out that he offers other features that differ from his competition.

     “As a locally-owned company, we are nimble and very responsive to customers. A live person always answers the phone and, after business hours, it is my cell phone that is reached,”

 he says.

     His company testimonials routinely echo that of businessman John Cheffer: “Your company was the most responsive and professional of three other companies I contacted. Your service was as stated; I expect as much from an ISO certified vendor. I have recommended you to others. I appreciated your patience and advice.”

     PROSHRED is a member of the Greater Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, and David Wright and his family reside in Charlotte. Off hours, you might see David and wife Julie carting their kayaks in search of white water.

 

 

 

 

Suzanne Fulton is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.
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