Thursday, December 21, 2006

Start Shredding the News

Sometimes it's impossible to fear something until it becomes real, until a face is put to an action, until a crime is perpetrated against you or a loved one. People can say they fear radioactivity. They can see the hazard sign, but without seeing the ionized radiation floating through the air, most people will shrug off the danger as harmless. It's the same lack of fear that allows a person to drive an vehicle without wearing a seat belt or safety harness. Until a person finds himself on the hood of his car lying face down in a pool of his own blood, he just won't put the damn thing on. Out of sight is, after all, out of mind.

Certain crimes have a face on them. When we think serial killer, we think Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. When we think assassin, we think John Wilkes Boothe or Lee Harvey Oswald. When we think securities fraud, we think Martha Stewart. We know the crime, we know the criminal, we fear to become the object of their dark obsessions.

Yesterday, a group of nearly a hundred MLB players -- and myself for that matter -- learned a new fear: identity fraud. A thirty-eight year old Chicago man, David Dright, was arrested yesterday on suspicion of identity theft after the police raided his home in response to an inquiry from a credit monitoring company. The first target, Bulls strength and conditioning coach Al Vermeil, was informed that certain incongruities were occurring within his credit account, and the police did find two credit cards in his name at the apartment of the the suspect. Among the names of other potential victims were Jim Thome, Moises Alou, Pedro Martinez and Miguel Tejada.

But the real fear came in reading about exactly how David Dright committed the crime.

He was a dumpster jumper.

Yes, he pulled a Tyler Durden and crawled into the garbage bin outside the office building housing SFX Baseball in Northbrook, IL, in an effort to find personal financial information. What isn't clear is if it was a random choice or just dumb luck on the part of the criminal in choosing that particular dumpster. The police speculate that the office wasn't targeted, but if he had any brains as a criminal he knew exactly what the possibilities were jumping into that exact dumpster.

A few things frighten me about this. First of all, the company, SFX Baseball, disposed of their clients' info without shredding it. There's an irresponsibility apparent on the part of the trusted partner that boggles the mind. As a potential client, would I feel safe having them handling my personal business when they can't remember to do something as essential and yet innocuous as shredding papers with my personal info on it? Were I a directing partner at SFX, heads would roll.

Secondly, outside of Hollywood, the scrap truck guy and the occasional bum, do you ever see people rummaging around in the garbage? As innocent and harmless an act as throwing out the trash can now be added to the list of worst nightmares for people who don't have the foresight to tear up or shred private info. From now on every time a car stops in the alley will you have to worry it's someone trying to rob you of your identity? Some companies are smart and lock up their trash with padlocks and chains, but will Waste Management be forced to raise their rates because they had to hand out new safety trash cans with locks and they had to pay for all the extra time it takes for the garbage men to unlock the safety cans? Just what we need, bigger bills.

Thirdly, and most frighteningly, I wanna know how this guy thought he was gonna get away with saying he was Jim Thome -- you see, the guy was a black man.

Then again I hope all criminals -- black, white, red, green, etc. -- are that stupid. Evolution would be taking a turn for the better.


Blogger Josh Harrisking said...

As someone that had this happen to me, I can tell you it's not cool. Luckily, the guy who did it was an idiot, only trying to max out my low funds debit card...but it's still scary to think where he got the info. My wife and I have taken to saving any info that we are worried would fall to the wrong people, and using it to start fires in our fire place...


6:00 PM, December 21, 2006  
Blogger Soxually Repressed said...

Because people can order with an illegally obtained credit card on-line and never show a photo. Do you think every order picker in CHINA knows who Jim Thome is?

Isn't technology grand?

Now crawl back under the covers before you stop to think about how many places in the world have your social security number.

6:26 PM, December 21, 2006  
Blogger jamesmnordbergjr said...

Somehow I knew you were gonna bring up the faceless online possibility (which I almost threw in a paragraph just to stop you -- or anyone else for that matter-- from pointing out.)

It was a joke, SR, a joke, and this guy had actual cards with Vermeil's name on them, and there's more of a paper trail if you order something and have it shipped.

Thanks for stepping on my small attempt at funny in a bad situation. Maybe I'll start calling you the F&F Grinch.

6:56 PM, December 21, 2006  
Blogger Soxually Repressed said...

It isn't my fault your "attempt at funny" was soooo small as to be obscured by it not being something to be funny about and your just not being very funny with it. Now, if the guy showed up at Comiskey Park and tried to buy Sox Stuff, say a THOME jersey, that would have been funny. Too bad YOU didn't think of that. Sorry to be such a jerk, I just could not help myself.

CindyLou Who

8:09 PM, December 21, 2006  
Blogger jamesmnordbergjr said...

The material can take you only so far.

9:17 PM, December 21, 2006  
Blogger Soxually Repressed said...

Plus, I'm all about faceless online possibilities. You can't stop me with a mere paragraph. (Insert evil laugh here.)

9:39 AM, December 22, 2006  
Blogger BlueRidgeShred said...

As a provider of onsite secure mobile shredding for the Maryland, Washington, DC., Baltimore areas, we have seen a dramatic increase in individual household requests for shredding.

Many fail to believe how common and shockingly - LEGAL, it is for anyone to search through and 'steal' trash from business and individuals. The Supreme Court ruling (Greenwood v. California) stipulates that if a person or business fails to take adequate measures to protect (destroy) this information prior to disposal than they have no expectation of privacy.

One of the most easiest and cost effective methods to curb identity theft is to curb the source of information used to perpetrate this rampant crime. Shredding is the best and most secure method. Mobile onsite shredding services like ours allows business to develop and implement a “Shred Everything” policy. Off-the-shelf shredders cannot properly shred the vast types of paper (Post-Its, envelopes, etc) business utilize which contain sensitive information.

A common misconception business have is that they must only shred information that contains a Social Security Number or credit card number. Many thieves seek out what referred to as “Snibets” or “Keys”. These are like the corner pieces to a puzzle. Once this seemingly harmless information is obtained much more information can be obtained through directory searches or pre-texting. An example of a Snibet or Key is a name, birth date, or home address.

Here is a common scenario; once an address and birth date is acquired from the business’s trash a thief can easily remove several bags of household trash left on the curb for pick up. Odds are the thief will pick up more information and the crime begins.

Since dumpsters in office parks provide a wealth of information and are virtually deserted after 7:00pm most thieves prefer them to neighborhoods.

Chris Deely
Operations Manger
BlueRidge Document Shredding. Inc.

12:42 PM, December 30, 2006  

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