Rick Carey
Founder and partner, Datasafe Information Security
Age: 60
Industry experience: 30 years 

 In a digital world, you might be forgiven for thinking sensitive paper documents are a thing of the past, but Rick Carey has made a career out of helping keep those files safe. Following a career in the federal government at Fidelity Investments, he founded the document destruction company Datasafe Information Security in 1990. Since then, he’s led his firm to successfully destroy more than 550 million documents with no security breaches or instances of identity theft. Carey’s company has adapted to the digital world in part by expanding their services beyond paper documents to include computer hard drives and electronic devices, all destroyed either in one of its mobile shredding vehicles or at a client’s offices. 

Q: How did you get into this line of work?
A: Immediately before launching Datasafe, I was a special projects administrator in the corporate security department of Fidelity Investments in Boston. In those days and in that industry, a very significant amount of sensitive information was stored on paper. The industry has changed in that much of that information today is stored electronically. Yet, whether on paper or in electronic format, the understanding that all of that sensitive information in the wrong hands could cause major problems is what led me to see the need for a business that would securely destroy sensitive documents. 

Before my work in corporate America, I had worked in the federal government at the Drug Enforcement Administration and then the Internal Revenue Service, in their Internal Affairs Department. Talk about a job where no one likes you! So, launching a document destruction company was definitely a venture where I felt I had “traded up.” 

Q: How does document shredding tie in with security, particularly where banks are concerned?
A: The largest single cause of security breaches is human error, whether that breach is a cyberattack over the internet or trash disposal in an office. At one time, it was more common practice in offices and financial institutions to simply throw out sensitive paper documents. In that scenario, anyone going through a dumpster outside a building could gather a lot of very sensitive information. Think about it: Social Security numbers, loan and credit data, lists of medicines someone takes and more.  

Shredding documents securely prevents any of that information from being accidentally discarded and falling into the wrong hands. The odds are that it wouldn’t happen, but it has. The heightened awareness of the security challenges associated with information storage has caused banks and credit unions to be much more proactive. 

Q: What is the single biggest cause of an information breach when it comes to document destruction?
A: Human error. This is true whether it’s electronic – opening emails that contain viruses – or paper. Protecting sensitive information begins with training and education. Whether it’s a bank or commercial real estate firm, everyone who works in an environment where there is sensitive information needs to be aware of the importance of protecting the data entrusted to them. Leaders in financial institutions and commercial real estate firms have the obligation to seek the very best training available and be certain that all of their employees successfully complete this training. 

Q: We see that some banks host their own shred days from time to time. How effective are these, do you think?
A: These shred days can be very effective, from both an educational and awareness point of view. Most banks and credit unions host events where they invite their customers to bring one or two boxes of documents to be securely shredded. This provides a valuable service for customers and also serves to heighten the awareness of the importance of securely destroying documents with sensitive information.  

Additionally, these events serve to reinforce that banks do care about security and their customers. It brings added value to the banking/customer relationship. The events are even better when, as is often the case, the banks have a shredding partner onsite to answer questions and educate the customers on the importance of securely destroying documents. Anything which educates people about the importance of securing information is a good idea. 

 Q: Do residential and commercial real estate firms also face challenges when it comes to secure destruction of documents?
A: Absolutely. Real estate firms process many documents containing sensitive financial information. Lease agreements, loan applications, earnings statements all contain information such as Social Security numbers, annual earnings, loan balances, bank account numbers, tax returns and so much more. Real estate firms need to protect information both electronically and through destruction of paper documents no longer needed. 


Carey’s Five Pet Peeves 

  1. Voicemail systems 
  2. Traffic 
  3. Temperatures below 80 degrees 
  4. Government bureaucracy and redundancy 
  5. Businesses that slide fees, surcharges and hidden charges onto bills 


by Bram Berkowitz time to read: 3 min