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Better Business Bureau: Data Protection

By By Alan Bligh
May 4, 2013 at 12:04 a.m.


They say one man's trash is another man's treasure. That's not always a good thing. Paper waste can be a treasure trove for thieves - and a major headache for businesses. I have heard of businesses going out of business because they were not careful with their employees' and customers' personal data.

Documents that contain sensitive information should be disposed of in a way that does not allow unauthorized access to personal data. The Better Business Bureau has the following tips for businesses regarding proper disposal of paper documents:

Shred all sensitive paper documents. Never just deposit them in the trash or dumpster. Ideally, use a shredder that cross-cuts, confetti-cuts or particle-cuts. For extremely sensitive information, use a "disintegrator," "granulator," "hammermill" or "grinder." These devices tear paper at random or tear paper into extremely small pieces.

Consider using a certified disposal company. The National Association for Information Destruction audits their member companies for compliance with the association's standards. Ask if they have been independently audited or certified and request a copy of the audit or certification.

Do your research. Check the disposal company's Better Business Bureau Business Review at bbb.org. Ask for several references.

Get it in writing. Ask for a signed agreement that explains the company's procedures for destroying documents.

As the school year ends, the festivities begin. From graduation get-ups to prom preparations, the expenses can quickly add up for parents. Graduation can be a yearlong expenditure, from invitations and photos to caps and gowns.

A senior prom, however, can quickly add up to a pricey last-minute event. A new survey from Visa Inc. indicated the average American family plans to spend $1,139 on prom this year, a 5 percent increase from 2012. Limousines are among the most popular expenses for both festivities.

Last year, the Better Business Bureau received more than 1,700 complaints nationwide regarding limousine services. Most complaints alleged the limo failed to arrive on time or at all. Other complaints allege consumers had trouble receiving requested refunds. Besides limo service, there are many other vendors involved in senior celebrations including flowers, photography, beauty services, etc. Check them out at bbb.org.

If there's anything I hate worse than a scam, it's a scam that uses a trusted name in order to take advantage of people. The Better Business Bureau recently received consumer complaints about a couple of scams that had something in common: the scammers claimed to be representing the Better Business Bureau.

Better Business Bureau Green Dot card scam: In the first call, the consumer reported receiving numerous calls from a scammer claiming to be from the Better Business Bureau asking him to get a Green Dot card so he could claim a prize and get tax-free money. The calls came from an 876 phone number from Jamaica.

Better Business Bureau Florida money wiring scam: The second consumer reported receiving a call claiming to be from "Better Business Bureau of Florida" (which doesn't exist). The caller told her she was being awarded money from a Better Business Bureau lawsuit. All she had to do was send funds for the legal fees - preferably by wire.

The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to avoid being scammed:

Don't give out information. Never provide any personal information to unknown callers, including bank information, Social Security number and contact information.

Don't wire money. Never wire money to unknown individuals. Wire transfers are untraceable, and there is no opportunity to recoup money if you have been scammed.

Don't pay up front. If you've really won a prize, you don't have to pay anything in advance - not a penny for taxes, fees or anything else. It's illegal to charge up front for a prize.

Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by email at abligh@corpuschristi.bbb.org.

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