Don’t launch a cyber-assault on Australian businesses – just look in their rubbish bins.
21 February 2013
The identities of thousands of Australian consumers could be at risk every day through simply having their personal information dumped into the rubbish bins of Australian businesses, and a consumer advocate for accurate credit reporting says this practice is an appalling oversight when personal information has become so valuable to fraudsters.
The National Association of Information Destruction (NAID-ANZ), which is the peak body for the secure destruction industry, recently hired a detective agency to find out what customer information was being thrown away unsecured in business rubbish bins.[i]
The investigator went through the contents of publicly accessible waste bins used by 80 Sydney businesses that have an established responsibility to client data, with the aim of discovering the relative percentage of confidential waste that might be available on a given day.
They found 11 per cent of those businesses contained crucial personal information readily accessible to passers-by and identity thieves.
“Some sectors did better than others,” said NAID CEO Robert Johnson. “For instance, of the nine randomly sampled trash bins serving government offices, no confidential information was found. On the other hand, bank branches fared less well with 40 percent found to be casually discarding confidential financial information.”
The study involved someone ‘casually’ looking at a bin, rather than dissecting it in an overly-thorough manner.
CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repair, Graham Doessel says “dumpster diving”– a practice of looking through rubbish bins for personally identifiable information is well used amongst fraudsters – and unlike many other forms of attempted identity theft, can be easily prevented through careful destruction of personal information.
“It is best practice in my organisation and I am sure in many others, to cross-shred every piece of personal information that is no longer required. If it is good enough for small business, it should be good enough for bigger business such as banks to properly dispose of this information,” he says.
On Monday new Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus QC warned that Australian businesses were increasingly being targeted for cyber-assaults.
“Cyber attacks have shifted from being indiscriminate and random to being more coordinated and targeted for financial gain. Most attacks occur from outside the business, although it appears internal risks are also significant,” Mr Dreyfus said.[ii]
Mr Doessel says whilst cyber crime is becoming increasingly prevalent, basic data destruction is still a pressing topic.
“We can’t forget about educating Australian businesses on data destruction and this simple way they can prevent their clients’ personal information from being stolen by identity thieves,” he says.
He says consumers should feel unnerved that it was so easy for the investigators to come across personal information in rubbish bins.
“Pieces of personal information are basically the building blocks of identity theft. Crucial details such as full names, addresses and dates of birth can all be used to build a profile on the victim which can then be used to assume their identity and even take out credit in their name. Often victims don’t know about it right away – and that’s where their credit file can be compromised,” Mr Doessel says.
He says once the victim’s credit rating is damaged due to defaults from this ‘stolen’ credit, they are facing some difficult times repairing their credit rating in order to get their life back on track.
“These victims often can’t even get a mobile phone in their name. It need not be large-scale fraud to be a massive detriment to their financial future – defaults for as little as $100 will stop someone from getting a home loan for the five year term,” he says.
He says what is not widely known is how difficult credit repair can be – even if the individual has been the victim of identity theft.
“There is no certainty that defaults can be removed from a victim’s credit file. The onus is on them to prove their case and provide copious amounts of documentary evidence,” he says.
Lisa Brewster – Media Relations email@example.com
Graham Doessel – CEO pH 3124 7133
MyCRA Credit Repair 246 Stafford Rd, STAFFORD Qld
MyCRA is Australia’s number one in credit rating repairs. We permanently remove defaults from credit files.
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