Paper shredders have rapidly become essential items of office equipment. Whilst paper shredders have long been recognised in the Public Sector as vital pieces of office equipment alongside (literally) the office copier and fax machine, businesses by and large have largely been, and remain, slow to realise the necessity of paper shredders.
are being bought by private individuals on an ever-increasing scale due largely no doubt to the massive increases over recent years of identity theft. The much-publicised cases of comedians Harry Hill and Ricky Gervais have contributed to the uptake of paper shredders in an increasing percentage of domestic dwellings, but the business sector is lagging behind. It will probably take a few "horror stories" of company identity fraud before the realisation dawns that if you do not already use paper shredders to shred confidential company waste then this is tanamount to leaving your office unlocked when you leave for the evening.
Individual Identity theft is growing fast, costing around £1.7 billion and affecting up to 100,000 people each year. Strangely, assuming another's identity is not a crime at the moment although the Government is considering making it one. It only becomes a crime when a stolen identity is actually used to obtain goods and services by deception at which point it becomes known as identity fraud.
Banks alone acknowledge about £500m of such fraud a year in the UK - up from £213m in 2000 and £62m in 1995. But banking insiders recently told the newspaper “Scotland on Sunday” that as much as another £500m was discovered by the industry but never reported to police, under a controversial policy of dealing in-house with any theft of £2,000 or less.
Somebody once said that if you want to know what is going to be happening in the UK in ten years time, then you need only look at what is happening in the USA today. Unfortunately, with the scourge that is identity fraud, the UK is very much in danger of catching up with the USA in less than ten years. Almost 20% of consumers in the USA admit to falling victim to identity theft.
Identity theft in the UK is rapidly on the increase, with an increase of 165% over the available figures for 2004 according to Credit reference agency Experian. It has been suggested that over 100,000 people will have been the victims of identity theft in the UK in 2005 (and the figure is rising year on year) and it is estimated that this will have cost the British economy over £1.7 billion (and again the figure is rising).
It can also take up to 300 hours of your time to repair your credit record if you become a victim of this particular crime. Many victims do not discover their identity has been stolen for an average of 18 months. Imagine how long then it would take to unravel the problems caused if someone were to assume your company's identity for dishonest reasons. Could the mess be unravelled before it was too late? Prevention would surely be better than cure. Paper shredders are a big part of the answer.