Last year corporate espionage cost U.S. businesses $45 billion, according to the survey, Trends in Proprietary Information Loss Survey, by the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). Fraud and theft involving everything from intellectual property to inventory, from cybercrime to corruption, are multibillion-dollar problems. Every organization is vulnerable. Risk is real, worrisome and unavoidable. Identity theft doesn’t just happen to consumers. It happens to corporations, small businesses, and it could happen to your company. As personal information becomes more accessible, companies must take precautions to protect against the misuse of that information.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates that U.S. corporations lose $24 billion each year to information theft. Identity theft and unauthorized disclosure of private information has made paperwork protection more important than ever. How do businesses protect themselves against the growing threat of identity theft? Be sure that you are routinely shredding important documents with a paper shredder.

Allegheny Paper Shredders, Delmont, Penn., offers some common “no-no’s” when purchasing a paper shredder. When searching, try avoiding these five common mistakes when buying a shredder.

1. Buying the wrong size or type of shredder: Consider the following: Shredding capacity, type of feed opening, width of feed opening, shred type and method of disposing or recycling. You need to ask: What kinds of materials am I shredding? How much material will you be destroying per day or per week?

2. Not buying a quality shredder: To handle a demanding routine, a shredder needs to be ruggedly built. Consider these factors when examining a high-volume shredder: quality, performance and reliability.

3. Not reading the warranty: Don’t make the mistake of assuming that all shredder warranties are alike. How long is the warranty period? Ideally, it should be covered for three years. What does the warranty cover? It should cover all parts and labor. Does the warranty cover the cutting assembly? It should.

4. Not checking out the vendor: You don’t want to buy a shredder from someone who may not be around when you need service or parts. Here are some pertinent questions: Is the vendor mainly interested in making a sale? Does he take the time to listen? Did the vendor remain helpful after the sale? And, what is the vendor’s service record?

5. Not realizing the true cost: Remember that there are cost factors other than the shredder itself. There is the ongoing cost of operating and maintaining the shredder.

Shredders, Etc.

In the age of information, it’s important to have the ability to keep others from seeing your personal data. Depending on a person’s security needs, the Chameleon by DAHLE North America, Peterborough, N.H., is available in either a strip-cut and cross-cut model. It is also available with an 8 1/2-inch, 9 1/2-inch, or 12-inch wide opening to feed paper into. This allows more versatility in the ability to shred large printer paper. The Chameleon is also fully electronic to include automatic reverse in the event of an overfeed, and visual and audible indicators if necessary.

The Model 266 from Security Engineered Machinery, Westboro, Mass., is a maximum security, high volume shredder. The oversized 13 3/4-inch feed opening accepts up to 16 sheets of paper which the cross-cutting shredder head reduces to particles no larger than 1/50-inch x 9/32-inch. The unit starts shredding automatically as paper is fed and stops automatically when the shredding cycle is complete. Bag-full and door-open indicators alert users to problems and prevent operation.

Fellowes, Itasca, Ill., and its Powershred 320 Strip Cut Shredder, is a powerful strip-cut shredder designed to meet the performance and budget requirements of the medium-sized office. It shreds paper into 1/4-inch strips, providing adequate security for most office needs and features automatic start/stop for convenient single-handed operation. Thermally protected 2/5 HP motor powers through 18-20 sheets of paper per pass 10-inch entry width and a shredding speed of 24 feet per minute provides fast uninterrupted shredding of all standard office documents.

On-site/Mobile Destruction

Shred-it, Oakville, Ontario, is in the mobile, on-site document destruction business. Their system of document destruction provides secure information disposal. From free locked security consoles to uniformed and bonded customer service representatives to mobile shredding trucks, security is guaranteed. The mobile shredders destroy thousands of pounds of confidential information. Then, before leaving the premises, you are presented with a certificate of destruction, proof that your documents were completely destroyed. Also, Shred-it’s locked security consoles are conveniently and strategically placed throughout your office. Uniformed and bonded customer service representatives will arrive on a pre-determined schedule to remove the contents of the consoles and transport them to truck, where they are immediately destroyed.

Also, Datasafe Information Security, West Bridgewater, Mass., provides high security storage and on- and off-site document and media shredding. The firm operates several 33,000 pound, 30-foot custom-designed vehicles that visit businesses on site and shred documents as requested. Datasafe also maintains a secure shredding facility for larger shredding assignments and provides consulting, evaluations and auditing services for firms dealing with document destruction and information security issues.

Allegheny Paper Shredders, Delmont, Penn., 1000-Series Shredders are used by hundreds of high-volume shredding operations, including the majority of the Fortune 1000. Allegheny’s reliability assures complete destruction of confidential material. The large feed tables and extra-wide feed openings of the 1000-Series shredders increase throughput by allowing multiple operators to feed material simultaneously.

These rugged, high-volume machines provide secure, on-site destruction of all types of confidential materials—from wastebin contents, entire cases of microfilm (reels and all) and audio/video cassettes to computer printouts, files and reports by the ton.

Any organization using an Allegheny 1000-Series Shredder can realize a significant profit from recycling the large volume of shredded material produced by these high-capacity machines.

MBM Corporation, N. Charleston, S.C., stresses that if you aren’t shredding your confidential documents they’re probably winding up in the trash. The information can still be read after those papers are crumpled, or even torn up. That’s why MBM’s full line of shredders, like its 5009 model, provides an impressive shred capacity of 500-600 sheets at a time. Complete lever-arch files can be destroyed within seconds.