Protecting your personal information is of utmost importance, especially in an age where with just a couple clicks, it is possible for hackers to steal your identity. The recent Target security breach has left many persons scrambling to avoid the same fate. While the incidence of identity theft in self storage might be lower than most other industries, this does not mean that the threat is non-existent.
In 2009, a self storage auction winner discovered that a self storage unit in Denver was being used as an identity theft operation. There were social security cards, driver’s licenses and other personal records of 150 patients of the St. Anthony Central Hospital. The discovery led to investigations by Denver police, Centura Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights. Identity theft has implications for both self storage customers and owners and operators. As a self storage renter, you may want to store sensitive documents, especially if you own a business and do not have sufficient space in the office to store customer records. Here are a few tips to protect yourself against identity theft when using self storage:
• Redact sensitive information – While you may not be able to avoid storing documents that contain personal information, you can make it a little more difficult for persons to use that information in the event that your unit is burglarized. Using a black marker to eliminate information such as birthdays and social security numbers from records. Instead of storing these hard copies in a physical self storage unit, you can create a digital version and then take the necessary steps to encrypt and protect the information. The physical version of the documents can serve as a backup, minus the personal information.
• Use a secure lock – This applies to storing self storage items in general. The lock on your unit is what will keep potential intruders out of your unit. If you are storing sensitive information, then you should definitely spring for a high quality lock. You may end up spending a couple hundred dollars on a lock but in the end, if it protects your personal information, then the trade-off is well worth it.
• Invest in a shredder – Don’t store items in the your self storage unit that aren’t necessary. You can shred certain documents instead of placing them in storage, which can eliminate the possibility altogether of someone breaching the unit to steal any information.
A self storage unit is a great place to store business documents and other sensitive information but it also requires a bit of care to ensure that these documents do not fall into the wrong hands. If you do your due diligence when storing your information, then will reduce the risk of identity theft for both yourself and any customers whose personal information you are charged with protecting. For self storage business owners, you are encouraged to report criminal activity immediately if you suspect that a unit in your facility might be used to house items by identity thieves.