The Benefits of Shredding Documents

In today’s society, we have become so accustomed to the digitization of data, that sometimes we may forget how much information remains in physical format. Documents stored on a computer may still be printed as a hard copy, and there are also phone messages quick notes and other items, that can all combine to provide an opportunity for the theft of information. Companies that are targeted for economic espionage are particularly vulnerable, as well as their clients and customers, either due to carelessness on their part of that of businesses charged with gathering sensitive information. That is one reason companies, and individuals, have been shredding documents because of the benefits that come with it. It is a process long utilized by government agencies. Document Destruction is usually achieved with shredders in an industrial facility dedicated to that purpose.

Confidential Shredding Services

Stories of paper shredding have appeared regularly in the media. In 2002, the Enron scandal exploded and it was revealed that Arthur Anderson LLP, the accounting firm that assisted Enron in falsifying their record of earnings, had shredded tons of documents. Most businesses use paper shredding for much more legitimate reasons, such as protection against economic espionage. But companies are not the only ones that need to destroy information; so do individuals.

According to the FTC in 2018, there were over three million complaints from consumers of some type of identity theft, which occurs when a criminal steals financial or other information from a person, then poses as them in order to siphon funds. Think of your trash… you may receive a credit card offer, dismiss it as junk, and throw it away. Once your garbage is placed out for pickup, it’s easy for a thief to go through it, remove the credit card offer, send it in after filling out the information requested, and obtain a card, courtesy of you… the innocent consumer who failed to appropriately dispose of that piece of “junk mail”. In the nineties, these nefarious individuals earned the alliterative moniker of “dumpster diver”.

Private eyes and even law enforcement can take advantage of the fact that material a person has thrown away in open to search without a warrant. Not every vulnerability to identity theft or invasion of privacy involves that intent on misusing your private records.


The History Behind Paper Shredding

The first paper shredder is credited to Abbot Augustus Low, a prolific inventor with the patent being filed on February 2, 1909… but his invention was never manufactured

Adolf Ehringer’s paper shredder (which was based on a hand crank pasta maker), was manufactured in Germany in 1935. The story is that he needed to shred his anti-Nazi propaganda to avoid the authorities questions. He later marketed his shredders to government agencies and financial institutions, changing from a hand crank to an electric motor. His company (EBA Maschinenfabrik) manufactured the first cross-cut shredders in 1959, and they continue to do so to this day as EBA Krug & Priester GmbH & Co. in Balingen.

Until the mid-eighties, it was rare for paper shredders to be used by non-government entities. One very high profile example of their use was when the U.S. embassy in Iran shredded documents before the embassy was taken over in ’79 (Google the “Iran hostage crisis” kids).

After Colonel Oliver North told Congress that he used a Schleicher cross-cut model to shred Iran-Contra documents, Schleicher sales boosted by almost 20 percent in 1987.

Paper shredders became more popular in the U.S. due to privacy concerns after the 1988 Supreme Court decided that the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the warrantless search and seizure of garbage left for collection outside. Anti-burning laws in many states also resulted in increased demand for paper shredding.

More recently, concerns about identity theft have increased personal use, with the FTC recommending that individuals shred financial documents before disposal.

Shred your documents securely by outsourcing to an HIPAA Compliant Shredding Service

Information privacy laws such as FACTA, HIPAA, and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act are also increasing shredder usage, as both individuals and companies are taking more steps to securely dispose of confidential information. Most companies now are outsourcing their document destruction to a shredding service, like American Document Destruction, Inc. We will either shred the material on site with mobile shredding trucks or brought back to our facility for shredding here. Documents that need destruction are usually placed in locked containers that are emptied by us on a regularly scheduled basis.


American Document Destruction, Inc.

Learn more about how American Document Destruction can help you maximize the benefits of shredding documents. We are a secure document destruction company that takes pride in providing our customers with only the most trusted shredding services. Contact us today to get started!