SECURITY ALERT: How to Avoid Identity Theft

by Stu Chisholm

Keeping our businesses secure against losses, theft and other hazards is something I’ve addressed extensively in both The Complete Disc Jockey and in the pages of Mobile Beat magazine.

It is easy to see how vulnerable a mobile DJ can be when out on the road hauling expensive sound, video and lighting gear – and sometimes even carrying good amounts of cash, most often at night

Yet when we’re at our homes and/or offices, we feel completely safe. Should we?

The Fastest Growing Crime is Identity Theft

According to the latest crime statistics, the fastest growing crime is identity theft. And, business owners are the most highly targeted! Not only do thieves want your information, but that of your clients as well. Yikes!

A common way thieves get their hands on it is to rifle through your trash. Names, addresses, checking account numbers and even credit card information could all end up there. It is up to YOU to keep it out of their hands!

The First Line of Defense

The first line of defense against such theft is to get a shredder and to make sure that NO sensitive documents leave your office without passing through it.

Still, this is NOT enough; there are criminals who are desperate enough, and have time enough, to reassemble your documents by hand. The old shredders that simply turn documents into strips only keep honest people from reading your stuff. What you need is a crosscut shredder that turns your documents into fine confetti.

Next, if you work from a home office, mix your shredded paper in with your household trash. There’s nothing like spaghetti sauce, fish bones and bathroom trash to make plundering your info a nasty chore to be avoided.

Even non-home offices usually have a coffee maker around. Used coffee grounds make great document spoilers! Lastly, when shredding sensitive documents, mix in “dither” – junk mail and other unimportant papers, to add another level of confusion to anyone attempting to reassemble your company’s private documents.

Virtual Shredding

Most of us store many of our documents virtually on computers and servers. Sophisticated thieves know this and have gotten very good at hacking into them. If you have wireless routers and other peripherals, you have vulnerability. Even wired routers have a password-protected firewall.

What astonishes me is how many businesses seldom, if ever, update their passwords!

Savvy, security-minded businesses will change these passwords on a monthly basis. The best passwords will be a mixture of letters and numbers a minimum of six digits long. Enable case-sensitivity whenever possible and use a mixture of upper and lower case. If you need reminders, do NOT keep them on your computer! An old-fashioned 3X5 card will suffice; store your reminder with your birth certificate, passport and other important documents.

Don’t Just Chuck Your Old Computer

Upgrading our systems also presents a big security hole: what happens to your old computer system? Whether you send it off to a “green” disposal company who will refurbish it for use in a school or charity, or toss it in a dumpster, your important information still lives on and can be recovered from its hard drives.

It is vital, then, to remove those drives beforehand! Simply wiping the data isn’t enough; hackers have become quite good at recovering information that has supposedly been erased. They must be physically destroyed.

Modern HDs have become quite robust, so even stepping on it or smashing it on the pavement may not prevent the data from being recovered. Think Terminator. The most recommended and effective method is to use a power drill. Make sure to use safety goggles and maybe even gloves, and bore 2 or three holes right into the disc part of the drive. It is then safe to dispose of normally.

Following the suggestions in this article will help you sleep more soundly at night by avoiding a potential crisis that could ruin your business. Sleep well my friends!

Stu Chisholm – The Complete Disc Jockey

Stu Chisholm of Stu & His Crew Professional Disc Jockey Service in Michigan, has has worked in several areas of the DJ Universe. He’s been a radio, mobile, club and roller skating rink DJ in the Detroit area since 1979, and done commercial voice-over work, as well. Stu has been a keynote and featured speaker at DJ trade shows in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. He is the author of the book, “The Complete Disc Jockey” and is a regular columnist with Mobile Beat Magazine. To contact him, email You can grab Stu’s book at