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Financial Companies Risk Data Security Breeches
[July 21, 2005]

Financial Companies Risk Data Security Breeches


One third (33%) of financial companies do not have a formal procedure in place for the disposal of key information and the least up-to-date on the Data Protection Legislation, according to research by Coleman Parkes, commissioned by Fellowes, leading manufacturer of personal and office shredders.



Yet, despite the lack of formal procedures put in place, 49% of people questioned believe that identity fraud is on the increase and over half of respondents feel credit card crime is set to become more prevalent.

Nigel Evans, Conservative MP for Ribble Valley says: “I would urge any financial organisation without a formal procedure in place for the secure disposal of key information to implement one immediately. Securely disposing of confidential and potentially sensitive information is the responsibility of all employees but it is a stance which must be adopted throughout an organisation from the top down. Systematically shredding all unwanted documents will dramatically decrease a financial organisations exposure to corporate fraud and help protect the staff, customers and partners from potentially fraudulent activity. “


Of the people questioned in the financial sector 79% admitted they dealt with financial information while 75% stated that they regularly handled personal information.

Tyron Hill, Senior European Product Manager from Fellowes, comments: “The ideal of the paperless office has yet to become a reality. In fact, it seems we are using and disposing of more paper today than ever before. With increased communication in all forms, we have seen increased rates of corporate crime, from anti money laundering to credit card fraud which totalled over £500 million in 2004. Now with criminals using ‘bin raiding’ as a way to access corporate information even a company’s rubbish is becoming a security risk.”

The healthcare sector is the most thorough when it comes to document disposal with 77% of respondents having fully documented procedures for the disposal of information. However, over half of the UK’s 3.9 million SMEs do not have a fully documented policy for the secure disposal of key information and an alarming 14% have no policy in place at all. HR Departments and Insurance companies followed closely behind with 51% and 48% respectively lacking formal document disposal policies.
For those company’s that do have a formal procedure in place the most popular approach to the secure disposal of information is shredding with 99% of respondents either shredding documents themselves or saving them for a third party to shred.

Forty-nine per cent of companies questioned agreed their knowledge of the Data Protection Act is detailed and fully up to date while 24% admitted their knowledge needs brushing up. A further 23% are working towards compliance and will be there soon while 18% of SOHO workers did not know they needed to change their approach and have a lot of work still to do!

An earlier poll, carried out on behalf of Fellowes by Populus, showed the full extent of the public’s concern about Britain’s fastest growing crime. 81% of the British public are concerned about becoming a victim of identity theft, and 87% believe the Government should help by issuing clear guidelines to individuals and businesses detailing the most effective ways to destroy information containing personal details.

Tyron Hill adds, “Failing to take steps to dispose of key documents and data securely can expose a business, its staff and its customers to huge security risks. Three simple steps are all that is required to kick start a corporate policy of professional disposal of sensitive information.”

Hill explains: “Making staff aware of the types of materials that can potentially lead to a breach of security is paramount. Often people are surprised to learn that every day office documents including headed paper, letters with signatures and invoices can all provide valuable information about a company or person that can be pieced together to make a fraudulent transaction.”

“Most importantly of all, invest in a paper shredder and ensure any documents that contain details of financial transactions or personal information are shredded before they reach the rubbish bin.”

Easy shredding

Organisations can invest from a range of Fellowes shredders to protect themselves and their customers from ID theft. The Powershred range features a heavy-duty motor allowing continuous use can shred paper, paperclips, CDs and even floppy discs.

Business to Business shredder stockists:

Wholesalers including Kingfield Heath and Spicers, Contract stationers including Banner, Guilbert and Lyreco, Mail order stationers including Neat Ideas and Viking Direct. Or call Fellowes on 01302 836 836 for more stockist information
For more info go to www.fellowesinternational.com

High street shredder stockists include:
Argos, Homebase, ASDA, B & Q, Comet, Currys, Dixons, OfficeWorld, PC World, Ryman, ToysRus.

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