Mail You Should Always Shred

shredding junk mail

The endless flow of junk mail we receive daily may seem harmless, yet much of it contains information useful to identity thieves. By casually discarding these materials into the wastebasket, you increase your risk of identity theft. A personal shredder is an easy, safe way to prevent mail containing sensitive information from ending up in the wrong hands.

Overlooked Identity Details In Your Mail

While we may be ready to shred any mail containing Social Security numbers, we may overlook other details such as phone numbers, date of birth, or details relating to employment or vehicle registration. Identity thieves use this basic information to create victim profiles. Personalized mail is a stepping stone toward a deeper dive by identity thieves toward accessing more valuable information. Make sure you shred any documents containing these often overlooked details.

The Risk of Pre-Approved Offers

Pre-approved credit card offers you receive in the mail have already established most of your critical information to make activating a new card easier. This convenience, however, brings a skilled identity thief closer to acquiring the last few pieces in the identity puzzle to open a card in your name.

Children and Identity Theft

Children are becoming one of the highest targeted groups by identity thieves, as their credit history is completely clean and thus extremely valuable.  Documents from schools, medical documents or any other mail that contains your child’s name, address or age encourages identity thieves to focus on a child’s vital data.

Need a Personal Shredder? Use this guide to help find one that fits your needs: Home Shredders

Father’s Day Home Office Gift Guide

father's day home office gifts

Not sure what to get Dad for Father’s Day? Here are some home office upgrades that will enhance his personal workspace.

A Sit-Stand Workstation

For dads looking to get into shape or just be more active while they work, the new Lotus™ Sit-Stand Workstation brings flexibility and movement to the home office. Standing burns up to 50 calories more a day than sitting, so the Lotus is the ideal addition for any dad who works frequently at his desk. The Lotus features Smooth Lift™ Technology so transitioning from sitting to standing and back again is effortless. Twenty-two different height settings and 17″ of vertical adjustment make the Lotus ideal for accommodating any stature. The Lotus also arrives fully assembled­­—no complicated instructions, no mounting. Just unpack and get started.

standing desk for Father's Day

A Personal Automatic Shredder

The Fellowes AutoMax™ Autofeed Shredder, initially designed for large offices, offers the ease and productivity of automatic shredding with a deskside personal shredder option. The 130C shreds up to 130 sheets of paper at one time, automatically. This includes paper with paper clips, staples, and wrinkles. Simply fill the bin, lock it and push the button. The Accufeed™ Technology shreds away while Dad gets back to other work.

automatic shredder for home office

A Plush Touch Back Support

Back pain is one of the most common complaints by anyone who sits at a desk. Offer Dad the gift of back comfort with the new PlushTouch™ backrest. The Innovative FoamFusion™ technology features memory foam infused with gel beads for maximum personal comfort and support. The adjustable strap with durable buckle also easily fits most office chairs.

backrest for Father's Day

An iPad Case with a Ballistic Nylon Cover

If Dad is an iPad fan, the MobilePro™ Executive Folio iPad Case is the perfect gift, not only protecting his iPad, but also offering a variety of productivity features enclosed in one case. The ballistic nylon exterior also features business card holders, a pen loop, a file folder, a refillable writing pad pocket and a magnetic closure for a complete, slim, all-in-one mobile workstation.

The SmartConnect Case™ allows for an iPad Air®/Air® 2 to be used in-folio, free-standing or hand-held, in vertical or horizontal orientation, and at three viewing angles. The case also includes a  removable Bluetooth® keyboard (iOS®, Android™ and Windows® compatible) with integrated wrist support for increased comfort and productivity.

iPad case for Father's Day

 

Top Three Businesses Vulnerable to Dumpster Diving ID Theft

paper shredding to prevent dumpster diving identity theft

While most businesses secure their online properties with firewalls and encryption, there are still some industries that are exposed to the risks of identity theft through old-fashioned dumpster diving. The emphasis on digital security has caused many businesses to let their guard down when it comes to the adequate destruction of confidential documents. As a result, many identity thieves utilize dumpster diving tactics, focusing their activities on certain types of small businesses, hoping to score big with offices that have left gaps in their identity theft protection plan. Not only do businesses risk the identity theft of their customers and clients, they also risk litigation for improper disposal of confidential information: See the federal HIPAA and FATCA guidelines.

Medical and Dental Office Shredding

While most large hospitals incorporate shredding into their identity theft policy, smaller clinics and medical offices may not be taking the necessary steps to protect the identities of their patients.  A Denver area medical office settled for their identity theft violation which involved disposing of unshredded confidential patient information in an unsecured container: Read more about how  HIPPAA takes trash seriously.

Identity thieves will target small clinics and dental offices, looking for negligence in document shredding in the dumpster behind the office building. Another case involved a Georgia medical clinic in which documents containing patient Social Security numbers, bank account information and names and addresses were found freely accessible by anyone willing to climb inside the dumpster. Learn more about this  Dumpster Diving Case.

In some instances, as in this case in Bloomington, proper shredding can actually be an issue of personal safety to customers:  A drug addict stole Margie Kerr’s pain medication after showing up at the grandmother’s front door. According to police, the thief targeted Kerr after finding her prescription records in a dumpster behind her Bloomington drug store.*  What cross-cut office shredders are best for medical practices and pharmacies.

Real Estate Office Shredding

Prospective home buyers fill out credit applications every day in real estate offices, assuming the sensitive information is properly handled. In many cases it is, but in some instances, busy agents may not take the time to shred confidential documents. Often large volumes of credit applications are piled up by a shredder, only to be discarded without being destroyed. A smart identity thief only has to wait until after hours to see what the dumpster behind a real estate office contains.   Automatic Shredding Solutions for Busy Real Estate Offices

Retail Business Shredding

When you apply for a car loan or fill out paperwork for financing at a furniture store, your completed credit applications may not be handled properly either. In one case at a closed North Atlanta car dealer, Social Security numbers, federal tax information and bank account information were found by authorities. Often closed businesses, having kept confidential files for long periods of time, will dump these documents without shredding­­–an illegal act in most states! Use an office paper shredder to keep your business legal.

Managing A Post Tax Time Paper Purge: A Better Way To Shred

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In the wake of tax season, there remains the question of what to do with all that paperwork. Of course, much of it needs to be organized and retained. Though volumes of unnecessary documents, especially for a small business, only take up valuable file space. If these documents contain much of your confidential information they cannot be discarded and need to be shredded.

The time taken to destroy these documents, however, can become a productivity nightmare. Whether you are a small business owner or running a business from your home, spending time feeding papers into a shredder steals away important time from managing your business. In addition, depending on the size of paper shredder you own, there is also the endless emptying of the bin and cleaning up the mess that it makes. And as with most paper shredders, the limited run time means waiting for your paper shredder to cool down before you can continue with your paper purge. All in all, it’s a time vacuum.

New shredder developments, however, can improve productivity. Automatic shredding allows users to walk away from the shredder and back to more important tasks for their business.

The AutoMax 200C and the AutoMax 130C are both designed for small business or home business shredding. Both feature hands-free shredding capabilities with a difference in paper capacity. The 200C takes up to 200 sheets, the 130C, 130 sheets. Here’s how it works:

  • Pile stacks of documents into the drawer—no need to remove staples, or straighten out wrinkles or even pluck paper clips off the documents—the AutoMax automatically handles all that!
  • Close the drawer
  • Press start

The 8.5 gallon pull out bin is also easy to empty when shredding is complete.

If your business also uses credit cards or DVDs, there is also a manual feed slot for destroying those as well. You can also use this slot for destroying any junk mail that may contain sensitive information.

For larger offices, use the AutoMax Commercial Automatic Shredders.

Why Employees Prefer Better Office Equipment Over a Foosball Table

Sometimes, workplace perks aren’t always about more fun and games for employees. In a survey of  1,200 full-time office workers conducted by Versta Research, 78% would prefer better office equipment over downtime entertainment like a foosball table. The eye-opening study reveals a desire for less frustrating experiences that come with inferior office machines.

 

automatic shredders preferred by employees

This is good news for employers, as it shows a genuine motivation for greater productivity. Employees are willing to giving their opinion on what they think will make the an office more efficient. The same study also revealed that 59% of employees believe that more up-to-date technology would be among the best ways to increase efficiency.

Where Office Equipment Falls Short & How to Improve it

Business machines like paper shredders are usually ignored until they break. This can mean a loss of productive work hours when an employee needs to contend with a shredder issue, such as a paper jam, or is working with a shredder that has limitations, like a short run time or restrictions on what it can shred. If a machine has shredding restrictions, employees may be forced to spend time removing paper clips and staples from documents prior to shredding.

Being proactive as a business owner or office manager means identifying weak performing equipment and replacing it with something better.

 

Upgrading to an Automatic Shredder and its Productivity Perks

  • Automatic Shredders like the AutoMax™ 500CL boosts productivity by offering a hands-free shredding experience. Simply load the drawer, press start and walk away.
  • With continuous run time, there is no delay in shredding caused by waiting for the machine to cool down.
  • The 500CL also features a JamGuard System™ that prevents interruption due to paper jams, ending forever the frustration of extracting half-shredded documents from the jaws of the office shredder.
  • No more need to sort through pre-shred documents, either. The 500CL also automatically shreds stacks of paper with wrinkles, staples, plastic credit cards, CDs/DVDs, junk mail and even documents with paper clips

 

For smaller offices, AutoMax automatic shredders also come in more compact models designed for small businesses and even home offices.

 

Learn More about improving productivity in the workplace.

 

Office Manager Tips For Reducing Workplace Disruptions

 

workplace disruptions

 

The best efforts by office workers to improve personal productivity may be thwarted by a workplace that is full of disruptions. From an endless thread of emails to co-worker chat sessions just outside an associate’s cubicle, many office cultures can sometimes seem almost counterproductive.

In fact, results based on a survey of 1,200 full-time office workers revealed some of the most annoying office distractions. Gossipy coworkers pull office mates into their conversation and away from big projects, while unnecessary meetings throughout the day only set workers farther away from critical deadlines. Even the temperamental printer’s paper jams can cause roadblocks to assignment completion. Here are some tips office managers can use to reduce disruptions and improve productivity.

A Checklist for Office Managers

Create Both Collaborative and Independent Work Areas

Friendly discussions among coworkers are essential for strong teamwork, but there is a time and a place for everything. Have areas of the office specifically for collaborative discussion and even informal chats. Reserve other office areas for quiet, independent work. Posting signs such as “Quiet, Geniuses at Work”, can make this policy seem less formal. It may also be secretly appreciated by many who need to get work done.

Maintain High Productivity Office Machines

Curiously a worker may curse a faulty fax machine in private but never mention it to the office manager, leaving the problem unresolved. Check up on office equipment to make sure it is performing at its best, which helps maintain high productivity. Also, look for newer, state-of-the-art business machines that actually improve productivity. For example, Fellowes’ AutoMax™ automatic shredders allow workers to shred without manually feeding paper into the machine. AutoMax shredders offer a truly walk away shredding experience. Employees simply load documents then press the start button to begin the shredding process. This elimination of hand-feeding allows employees to return to important tasks more quickly. Select AutoMax shredders can shred up to 500 sheets in a single session. See AutoMax in Action.

Offer an Attendance Option for Meetings

Not everyone may need to attend a meeting. Allow meeting organizers to list critical attendees, and then those who wish to show up if they have the time. This removes the obligation for some workers to attend non-important meetings, so they can remain focused on current assignments.

Minimizing disruptions is just one way an office manager can improve productivity.  Check out other productivity tips for the workplace: Read the article.

Getting Productive at Work Without Late Hours

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Taking on more hours at work may not be the best path to productivity. As a manager or business owner, expecting staff to stay late may be negatively impacting morale, as 72% of employees believe that more hours doesn’t necessarily mean greater productivity. And they are right.

Research that examined the relationship between hours worked and productivity found that employee output falls sharply after a 50-hour workweek, dramatically decreases after 55 hours—so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours, according to a study published by John Pencavel of Stanford University. In addition, extra hours led to increased absenteeism and employee turnover. Yet the “working more” myth still prevails as nearly half of U.S. workers say they routinely put in more than 50 hours on the job each week, often without overtime pay.

Improving Productivity from Nine-Five

An efficient, productive work day is actually easier to achieve than most think and offers the remarkable benefits of an improved work-life balance. Here are some tips:

Better Time Management

Making the most of the time you have at work is one of the simplest ways to be more productive. For example, the average employee spends approximately 15 minutes each day shredding documents. Employers can help reduce the amount of time spent performing this task by incorporating automatic shredders into the office. These machines automatically shred documents and do not require a staffer to hand-feed papers, thus reducing the number of minutes needed to complete the task. The time saved can now be allocated to other work-related tasks. Learn more about what you can do with 15 minutes at work.

Set Personal Breaks

Taking scheduled breaks can actually help improve concentration. Short rests to stretch or take a quick walk, or even a deep breath during long tasks helps you to maintain a constant level of performance.

Set Personal Deadlines

Rather than relying on a project deadline to gauge your time during the work day, set your own self-imposed deadline. You may be surprised how productive you become when you determine your own limits, and you will feel good you finished projects sooner.

Set Performance Intervals for Your Work Day

Researchers have found that elite performers (athletes, chess players, musicians, etc.) who work in intervals of no more than 90 minutes are more productive than those who work 90 minutes-plus. By scheduling your day around 90- minute time slots you may find that you have completed a lot more by the end of the day, and without feeling exhausted or stressed at quitting time.

A combination of personal focus and time management can eliminate those long hours at the office and improve your productivity. You will certainly enjoy the time away from work as well so you are recharged and fresh for work in the morning.

Seven Productive Tasks You Can Perform in 15 Minutes

15 minute productivity tips

Given the opportunity, many of us will focus on major projects and put aside the minor tasks. Eventually, these smaller “to-dos” become “must-dos” that cut into our time better spent on the big picture assignments. With 15 minutes to spare, here are everyday tasks you can easily complete. But how can you get that precious 15 minutes?

 Your 15 Minute Office Hack

The average office worker spends about 15 minutes a day shredding. Using an automatic shredder, which does the shredding for you hands-free, you can get lots done.

Respond to email-Answer those emails that have been lingering in your in-box.

Organize your desk-It only takes a few minutes to transform a desktop nightmare into an organized work space.

Send a thank you email to someone-It’s not an email that requires your immediate attention, but a courteous gesture that you now have time to do!

Update your calendar-Things change, which means so does your calendar. Make sure cancelled meetings are removed, which can make time for other tasks.

Organize your computer files-Your computer desktop can becomes as cluttered as your real desktop. Take fifteen to organize folders and word docs so you are not staring at a wall of square icons.

Review your voicemail-If that red dot of unanswered calls is staring at you, your fifteen minutes is the perfect time to delete unwanted messages and return calls.

Take a break-15 minute breaks actually improve productivity. While your automatic shredder is shredding away, you can take a few minutes to stretch, breathe and simply meditate.

Learn more about  productivity in the workplace with this infographic

Do You Know Paper Shredder Security Levels?

shredder security

When selecting a new paper shredder, think about your identity theft prevention needs and how it applies to shredding. A shredder cut size can range from strips to infinitesimal particles. Choose from one of these four levels of shredding security.

 

Strip-Cut Shredders-Security level P-2

If you only shred junk mail or are shredding just to declutter your home office, a simple strip-cut shredder is useful. A strip-cut machine reduces documents to 7/32″ strips of paper.

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Cross-Cut Shredders-Security Level 3-4

Cross-cut shredders are the first choice among most small offices and homes for destroying confidential information. Cross-cuts reduce documents to 5/32″ x 1-1/2″ particles, roughly 397 particles per sheet of paper, making them practically impossible to reassemble.

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Micro-Cut Shredders-Security Level P-5

Micro-cut shredders are growing in popularity, especially after former con man and security expert Frank Abnagle indicated that he “shreds everything with a micro-cut.” Micro-cuts are the highest level of document destruction, meeting many federal guidelines for shredding, literally turning documents to dust and leaving behind 5/64″ x 5/16″ particles in your shredder bin—that’s 3,770 particles per sheet! If you manage confidential documents including financial papers or documents containing personal information like social security numbers, than the micro-cut is the best choice for your business.

micro cut shredder

 

Government Approved Shredders-Security Level P-7

The government isn’t satisfied with micro-cut. When it comes to classified and top secret documents, government agencies use high-security shredders, transforming paper into 1/32″ x3/16″ particles. If you are looking for absolute peace of mind when it comes to shredding, selecting a government shredder ensures nothing will be left behind to piece back together.

The Risks of the Ready-to-Shred Slush Pile

shredder slush pile

Many busy offices may not shred daily. In fact, Fellowes consumer research shows that as much 30% of offices still shred only a few times a week rather than everyday, which means confidential documents are accumulating in a ready-to-shred slush pile. When you consider that 43% of data losses were directly accountable to internal factors, ranging from disgruntled employees to corporate spies, the unattended slush pile becomes an overlooked risk.

Slush Pile Solutions

An office of any size can still manage a daily shredding policy without compromising productivity. Using an automatic shredder, makes the process easy.

Automatic shredders can handle loads of shredding all at once hands-free, eliminating the need for hand-feeding documents into the machine. This is the most common cause of the slush pile, as papers are typically set aside for a time when an office employee can handle a large shredding task.

Some models of automatic shredders feature scheduled shredding options, allowing automatic shredding to be done after business hours on a daily basis. Piles of confidential documents left exposed overnight are vulnerable to identity thieves who often take jobs with cleaning crews for the very purpose of gaining access to these documents.

Automatic Shredding-Not Just for the Big Corporate Office

Add automatic shredders to a small business as well. With the 130C  automatic shredder, small offices can also improve productivity and eliminate the risk of the ready-to-shred slush pile.