Water Damaged Documents

Whether your washer leaks or the basement floods, water damage can cause a lot of problems in both residential homes and commercial buildings. While water damage is bad no matter what the source is, a natural disaster – like Hurricane Harvey – can cause even bigger problems. If your personal documents at home were ruined or your business is now staring at mountains of soggy papers, you may be wondering what to do with those papers. You may ask yourself if it’s possible to recycle or shred wet paper. Once a paper experiences water damage, you, unfortunately, may have no choice but to recycle it.

What to do if your documents were damaged by water?

Regardless of what you choose to do with your papers (salvage, shred, or recycle), it is important to act quickly to prevent mold and mildew growth.

  1. Assess the situation: What documents were affected? If the documents were soaked to the point of being unidentifiable, try to make a list of papers you know are affected. This will help greatly if you need to request replacement documents. Additionally, decide if any papers are salvageable.
  2. Discard boxes: If your documents were stored in cardboard boxes, carefully remove the papers and destroy the boxes.  Even if you dry the cardboard boxes, they are not safe to reuse. A word of caution when lifting boxes: the bottom of wet boxes tend to disintegrate and give way easily.  It’s best to remove the papers before attempting to lift the box.
  3. Dry your documents papers: It might seem pointless to dry a document that you intend on shredding, but this an important step for two reasons.  First and most importantly, drying your documents (along with any wet possessions) helps stop the growth of mildew and mold. If you were evacuated and returned home, it’s not unlikely to find mildew starting to grow. Second, soggy papers can begin to disintegrate and form a ball, clogging the shredder. Dry papers are much easier to shred.

How do I dry my papers?

Drying your papers and removing water from your home can be done.  The key is to lower the humidity levels and have constant air movement such as open windows and oscillating fans. Do not attempt to dry stacks of papers; rather, lay out each individual paper on a clean, dry surface. Flip the papers over as necessary to ensure that both sides are drying.

Why should I shred papers that are partially illegible?

Even if you cannot read an entire document, sensitive information may still be legible. For that reason, shredding is a secure way to make sure all of your personal information is kept private.  Additionally, if your business was flooded, you may have documents that you are not legally allowed to toss in the garbage; some types of documents, like healthcare records, must always be shredded.  Tristar will always issue a Certificate of Destruction as proof that you have complied with any legal obligations to destroy records.

Do I have to remove the fasteners?

Unlike small office shredders, Tristar shredders can easily tackle staples and binder clips which saves you time from removing those items from piles of wet documents.

If you have documents damaged by flood waters, contact us for a  free quote.

Federal Regulations for Shredding Hard-Drive Data

man shredding paper

Contrary to what most people know, complete data destruction is more than simple deletion of files and clearing the recycle bin in a computer. While the data may not be visible, it is still accessible on your hard drive and vulnerable to misuse by other parties. With this in mind, the IRS has established regulations that ensure 100% safe data destruction.

The IRS Publication 1075 Media Sanitation clearly explains that all organizations, whether international or local, are expected to follow the established guidelines for securing and eliminating Federal tax return and return information (FTI) they receive from the IRS. Once an agency is no longer in need of information it has received from the IRS, it may take steps to return the information or simply destroy the information.

The Approaches Used when Dealing with Hard Drives

There are various approaches to be considered when dealing with hard drives. They include:

a)    Overwriting the Drive

An agency may decide to overwrite the drive through the use of special software. There are several versions of this software available in the market, and selecting a proper one may be challenging. One overwrite is not enough, therefore, making this process time-consuming.

b)   Degaussing the Drive

This process involves the elimination of the magnetic field. However, the use of degaussers requires that the instructions be followed to the letter. Fortunately, the NSA/CSS has evaluated and published a list of degaussers and given information on the drives each model can erase.

c)    Physical Destruction of the Drive

The hard drive can be crushed, disintegrated or shredded. Agencies may choose to erase data through overwriting or degaussing, then crush, disintegrate or shred them. However, purchasing the equipment required for these processes is expensive for most agencies. Outsourcing, is, therefore, a viable solution for agencies. Approved data-destruction service providers will easily collect, reuse and recycle hard drives.

To maintain confidentiality, verification of the selected information sanitization and the selected disposal process is required. Usually, a sample a sample of the media is tested for sanitization to assure the agency of complete protection. Additionally, agencies should document the sanitization of the media for later reference.

Tristar Document Shredding

Tristar Document Shredding is a verified data-destruction company based in Texas. We offer complete, effortless and efficient data-destruction services to residents, communities and commercial entities. With state-of-the-art technology and mobile services across the state, we are easily accessible and promise 100% secure data destruction.

Shredding of hard drives through approved means is the easiest way of erasing data completely. During the destruction process, agencies select an individual to witness the process. The process is expected to be eco-friendly because the circuit boards in hard drives contain metals that are hazardous and toxic when released into the environment.

We easily remove hard drives and servers from heavy-duty commercial equipment and turn them into scrap metal. With our reuse, reduce and recycle policy, we ensure that all the hard drives entrusted to us are destroyed in an eco-friendly manner that is approved by relevant laws.

Clients are assured of our competence as we are a trusted member of the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID). We ensure that all the hard drives handed to us are secured and that information is not leaked. Our services are quick, efficient and easily available to all citizens of Texas. Contact Tristar Shredding through our website for excellent hard-drive shredding services.

Mobile Shredding Demonstration

Mobile shredding is an easy, fast and safe way to dispose of documents that hold sensitive information. But do you know how easy it is? Hint: It takes two minutes, and zero effort from you! Check out the video below to see what one of our regularly scheduled shredding services looks like.

Our mobile shredding unit comes directly to your location allowing you to monitor the shredding process as it happens. You can schedule weekly, semi-monthly or monthly shredding, although we offer one-time shreds and/or annual purges as well. Our services are charged by the container, box or pound; there are no hidden charges or add-ons.

We don’t just shred paper we can shred almost anything; Materials including hard drives, magnetic tapes, CD’s, floppy discs and more. There is no need to remove rubber bands, staples, or binder clips from your documents beforehand. Our shredders handle it all in one simple operation.

At Tristar Document Shredding our number one priority is YOU. We can tailor our services to suit your needs and ensure a smooth, 100% secure service every time.
Contact us today for more information, pricing or to schedule your first service.

 

How Long Do I Have to Keep My Tax Records?

Phew! April 18th has come and gone. Whether you looked forward to receiving a big refund or dreaded it because you had to pay, tax day is over. At least until next year.

But now, even with electronic filing, you probably have plenty of paper records in a filing cabinet somewhere. Years and years of forms, receipts and documents. One of the most common questions surround tax documents is “How long do we have to keep them?”

The answer: it depends.

If you’re still hanging on to files from 1990’s, you’re certainly safe to shred. In fact, 3 years is the recommended length to keep tax documents in most cases. But there are other situations when you should keep them longer (such as if you filed a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction). You can review the list of IRS guidelines here, or contact a trusted CPA for specific questions about what and how long to keep files.

It can be scary to shred documents (what if I need these later)? However, it can be even scarier NOT to shred them. Paper files create a security risk. Personal information can get into the wrong hands. Papers could be lost or stolen. Your financial information may have changed in the last ten years, but your social security number hasn’t. You still need to protect your personal information.

The safest thing is to destroy documents you no longer need. And when it’s time to do that, make sure you partner with a professional. You can bring them into an on-site shredder, such as Tristar’s Walk-In Shredding, or arrange for a one-time service if you don’t already have a regularly scheduled service in place.

For more information about document shredding contact Tristar today.

Benefits of Walk-In Shredding

No matter the size, location or industry, document and information security is critical to all businesses. Whether it includes patient information, financial records or other critical data, proper security and disposal should be a top priority. Not only for ethical reasons, but also from a legal standpoint. There are severe penalties for non-compliance, as well as potential PR repercussions that can negatively affect a business. The risks simply aren’t worth it.

Which is why many people opt to physically bring in and watch their documents and/or hard-drives in being shredded. It’s worth it for their peace of mind.

In fact, walk-in shredding has many benefits, including:

Convenience – When you have documents you need to destroy,  you simply bring it in to the center. No appointment necessary during regular business hours, and no need to wait or hold on to them until a scheduled day/time. Instead, you set the schedule according to your needs.

Any Amount – Most walk-in shredding locations, including Tristar’s new Conroe location, will accept any amount, big or small. You can pop in with a single box of documents, or arrive with multiple boxes and several hard-drives.

Paper and Hard-Drive Shredding –  You can go to one single location to safely and securely dispose of both paper documents AND hard-drives.

Peace of Mind – There is a certain peace of mind that comes with having your documents or hard-drives shredded on-site while you watch. No wondering what could happen after they leave your hands. Plus, you’ll have a record confirming that your documents have been destroyed.

Walk-in shredding is a convenient and safe way to destroy documents. If you have questions about the service, contact us directly today. Or bring your documents or hard-drives to our new walk-in location:

Tristar Document Shredding

500 North Loop 336 East, Suite 106-107

Conroe, TX 77301

Walk-in Shredding Hours:

Monday – Friday 8am – 5pm

Saturday by appointment

 

How to Find a Trustworthy Data and Document-Shredding Service

paper scrap imageWe all know the value of shredding confidential documents, but what is the value of on-site shredding? On-site shredding is when a shredding company destroys your documents, hard drives, etc., on-site in front of your own eyes.

Many people have concerns about handing over their confidential documents containing private information to a stranger, even if that stranger is a shredding company. We understand these concerns. The whole reason people have documents shredded is to keep the information they contain from falling into someone else’s hands, so it makes sense to have anxiety about handing them over to a stranger.

How can you get peace of mind when using a professional shredding service? Here are some tips to help you find a document and hard-drive-destruction company that you can trust:

Research – Do your research, people! Make sure the company you choose is a respectable, trustworthy company. Check any ratings and reviews, and always go with a company that gives you a Certificate of Destruction confirming your materials have been destroyed.

NAID Membership – Another good thing to look for is whether or not they have a membership with the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID). NAID membership shows that the company and its employees are professionals who are up-to-date with the current industry standards and regulations.

Recycle – Once you have chosen a shredding company, be sure to ask if they recycle! With the amount of paper that is being shredded by any given shredding company, it’s a no-brainer that they should recycle it and help protect the environment. Make sure they dispose of shredded hard drives and e-waste responsibly as well – these things should also be recycled as they contain toxic components that are harmful to people, animals and the environment.

Convenience – Last but not least, you want to choose a shredding service that is efficient but also convenient for you. Do they offer the services that you need, and are they capable of handling the amount of shredding you have? Do they come to you, or do you go to them? Do they offer regular scheduled services or just one-time services? Make sure that they can meet your needs with minimal effort from you.

If you have questions about document shredding or need additional information about business services or pricing, contact Tristar Document Shredding today.

5 Reasons You Need to Shred Your Old Devices

old cell phones

These days, cell phones are involved in every aspect of our lives: we use them as phones, GPS devices, portable computers, and more. Whether you realize it or not, your phone has sensitive information stored on it. Smart phones store all of our usernames and passwords. They have direct access to our bank accounts. They have email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers and pictures of our families and friends.

We all love the convenience of technology, but few realize the importance of properly disposing of your old smart phone when you upgrade to a new device. Having your mobile device shredded is the only 100% guaranteed way to wipe the memory on your device.

Just in case you need convincing, here are 5 reasons to shred your old devices:

  • Restoring your phone to factory settings doesn’t always work. The stores and cell phone carriers will always recommend this option, and sure it doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t always work either. A team at Cambridge University conducted a research study and found that 80% of the time, they were able to recover authentication tokens, which are essentially an electronic key to access confidential accounts and information. So 80% of the time, they were able to restore the phone from factory settings and access confidential information of the previous owner.
  • The SIM card is not the only part of the phone that stores information. If you remove the SIM card from your device, that does not remove all the stored information within your phone. Just like the phones in the Cambridge research study, all devices have internal components that store information — whether they have a SIM card or not. Removing the SIM card will remove the information stored on the SIM card, but not the information that is stored in your device internally.
  • Destroying it is not enough. So you take a hammer to your phone … that should do the trick, right? Guess again. Just because the phone looks destroyed does not mean that all the right memory chips and internal components that store information have been correctly and totally destroyed. The only guaranteed way to wipe information from a phone is by having a professional shred it.
  • A little information goes a long way. As technology evolves and gets smarter, so do the thieves and hackers. Oftentimes, all they need is one tiny piece of information in order to unlock the door that leads to much more crucial information.
  • Your whole life is on your phone. From emails to bank accounts to photos of loved ones — every little detail about you is stored on your phone. That is reason enough to want to make sure the information on your phone is destroyed properly, by a professional, to ensure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

When dealing with information that is this confidential, you want to make 100% sure you have it completely erased. Do your research and you’ll find that data destruction and e-waste recycling are the only safe ways to dispose of your devices. When you’re ready for an expert to take those old devices off your hands and destroy them safely, give us a call at 936-788-4733 or visit our website to get a free quote.

New Year, New Practices: Why You Should Use Professional Data & Document Shredding in 2017

tristar helpAs we get ready to ring in the New Year, most everyone’s brains are already occupied by 2017. What will your resolutions be? To exercise or lose weight, to eat healthier, to be more productive or more organized, to try new things? Does one of those sound right?

A general rule when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions is that we are all aiming to better ourselves in some way in the coming year. Generally it comes to bettering our health, wealth or happiness – but what about bettering our businesses?

Something of great importance when it comes to a successful business is protecting the confidential information of both your company and your clients. Businesses have to be in compliance with federal and state laws when it comes to storing and disposing of private records and sensitive information. Failing to do so can result in serious penalties and fines. Depending on the degree of the breach, sometimes criminal penalties can even be administered along with a fine.

With the help of a professional data and document destruction service, you can ensure that your company meets the legal obligations it has involving secure information destruction and disposal. A mobile shredding service, like Tristar Document Shredding, will come to you to make the process as easy as possible. All you do is schedule a service, whether it’s one time or a regularly scheduled service, and we’ll handle the rest.

If you need a regularly scheduled service (weekly, monthly or semi-monthly), you will be provided with a container in which to dispose of sensitive information. We will then come to you at the scheduled time and take care of it – simple as that!

Our industrial shredders can take care of documents (staples, paper clips, binding, etc. included!), hard drives, magnetic tapes, CDs and more. In addition to document shredding, Tristar Shredding offers hard-drive destruction, electronic media destruction and e-waste recycling. Need a document-storage facility cleaned out? We offer one-time purge services for large volumes of documents – a certificate of destruction is included: it’s a guarantee that we have securely disposed of your sensitive information.

So if you need help getting healthy in 2017, you’re on your own – but if your goal is to better your business, be more organized, or try something new, let Tristar Shredding help you out.

To get a free quote or to schedule a service, please visit our website at www.tristarshredding.com.

3 Benefits of Mobile Shredding

28255631 - a man wearing a suit showing a document with the text confidential written in it

Whether you run a business or a household, it’s always important to protect sensitive and confidential information from falling into the wrong hands. Every day, as an individual, you are at risk of identity theft; if you don’t properly destroy documents and data with containing sensitive information then you are increasing that risk. Businesses are at risk everyday too; at risk of security breaches that will lead to an incredible loss of money and possible legal action against them.

Here are 3 reasons to start using a mobile shredding service to help protect yourself or your business:

Protection Against Fraud. This is a BIG ONE. Fraud is on the rise and it’s a global problem. Hackers can recover sensitive information – from old hard drives, computers, cell phones, disks, etc. – even if they have been cleaned or erased.

Many people think data destruction is as simple as deleting files and emptying the recycle bin. In reality, when computer files are deleted, the operating system only deletes the links to the data, leaving the actual data still on your hard drive.

Documentation and paperwork that is kept around the home or office can also be stolen or found in the trash and used to steal an identity. It’s just as important to shred documents as it is to shred hard drives.

Secure document and data destruction is crucial for regulatory compliance with all major Federal, State and industry regulations. Data destruction is the only 100% secure method to absolutely ensure that your data is not accessible by anyone.

Environmental Benefits. Mobile document and data destruction services help you dispose of confidential information in an environmentally responsible manner. All of your documents and data will be will be destroyed and recycled back into the world.

It’s Convenient. This one is a no-brainer. You can schedule a service to come regularly, say once every month or so, or you can schedule a one-time on-site purge. Either way the mobile shredding service comes to you, they handle everything on-site and then they give you a certificate of destruction on their way out. You don’t even have to leave your desk.

Tristar Document Shredding provides commercial, community and residential data destruction, hard drive destruction and e-waste recycling throughout the state of Texas. Our mobile data destruction services are an easy and effortless way to ensure that your company is compliant with all major regulations.

Visit our website for more information on document and data destruction or get a free quote here.

Rules for Recycling Electronic Waste

ewaste

What is Electronic Waste?

Electronic waste, more commonly referred to as e-waste, is what remains of our old, broken or outdated electronic devices. Many people don’t realize that e-waste consists of much more than old cell phone’s; its computers, hard drives, televisions, VCRs, DVD players, tablets, video game consoles, USB and other external storage devices, radios, copy/fax machines, printers and more.

Why is E-Waste Bad?

E-waste is a quickly growing problem in today’s world. According to a report from United Nations University, an academic and research arm of the United Nation, we discarded almost 42 million metric tons of e-waste in 2014, and the amount has since continued to rise. Elephants generally weigh around 1 metric ton (2,240 pounds). That means our discarded e-waste in 2014 alone is roughly equal to the weight of 42 million elephants.

A lot of the materials that make up our electronics are valuable: silver, gold, titanium, copper, iron and more. When recycled by a professional service, these valuable materials can be removed and recycled.

Just like they contain valuable materials, they also contain materials that are toxic to us: arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium and many more. If we toss our electronic devices in the trash they end up in a landfill where these toxins will eventually leak out into ecosystem, turning our air toxic and water toxic and harming our plant and animal life. The more toxins leaking into the earth, the more damage it will do, eventually affecting our food supply. These toxins also cause bodily harm to anyone who comes in contact with them. Some side effects of being exposed to these toxins include birth defects, cancer, lung damage, thyroid damage, seizures and even death.

What Can We Do?

Clearly we’re not going to stop buying electronics, so what we need to focus on is being responsible consumers. To do this we can make sure we buy good quality electronics that will last longer. We can keep our electronic devices for longer periods of time, instead of unnecessarily upgrading them every year.

And when you do have to get rid of an electronic device…RECYCLE!!! Have a professional, reliable company shred your hard drives and recycle your cell phones, tablets and other electronic waste. There are mobile shredding and data destruction companies that will come to you, making it super easy for you to securely and responsibly dispose of all your electronics and confidential materials.

If you would like more information on e-waste recycling, or would like to get a free quote, please contact us at 936-228-5500 or visit our website here.