WHH Ranch Company Uses Shredded Checks As Package Cushioning

A Texas cannery has been using shredded checks from the local bank as packing materials for the past twenty years. The WHH Ranch Company claims that Michelle McBride of Kansas is the only customer to ever complain about the checks, which plainly displayed routing and account numbers for hospitals, medicare, schools, businesses, and personal accounts.

“We didn’t piece any of this together. We just taped it to hold it together. None of this has torn through at all,” Amelia McBride said.

“You get the wrong people get a hold of this information, oh my gosh! They could have a heyday with this one box,” Michelle McBride said.

“I was just in shock. I just couldn’t believe that they’re using shredded up checks as packing material,” Amelia added.

The McBride’s contacted the company that shipped and packed the peppers, WHH Ranch Company.

Owner Bill Hamzy says the family owned and operated business has been using shredded paper from the same Texas bank for years.

He says the McBride’s are the first to notice the problem and one he will fix immediately.

It’s great that WHH Ranch agreed to stop packing goods in shredded checks, but what sort of insanely reckless bank was handing them out to begin with?!

Packing material poses threat to customers of one Texas bank [KTKA] (Thanks to Aaron!)

Comments

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  1. ZaerApollo says:

    Wtf.

  2. lockdog says:

    Things banks and hospitals have “accidentally” donated to my local habitat for humanity affiliate in the last 6 months:

    2 filing cabinets full of transaction records, including old deposit slips, two filing cabinets with employee and payroll information including addresses and social security numbers. One desk drawer full of forms that contained social security numbers, names, personal signatures, and yes neatly attached to each card, a safe deposit box key. I can’t verify whether the dozens of computers a business sent us last week were clean or not, we hit them with DBAN on first boot.

    My favorite, and the most insidious, are the countless old fax machines we receive where if you pull out the used thermal paper roll, there in reverse is a copy of every single fax ever sent on that roll of paper. Thousands and thousands of faxes with all manner of information and I’ve never figured out how to shred the stuff since it is basically the consistency of thin trash bag. We stuff them down into cans of old latex paint that we are disposing of, stir it up and add the magic paint hardening crystals.

    My personal info shreddies go into the compost pile at home. A generous topping of eggshells and some cow manure and this year’s junk mail is next year’s tomatoes.

  3. mariospants says:

    Consider it a bonus for shopping with WHH Ranch. Well, sort of, you’d still have to be an outlaw to take advantage of it.

    However, I’ve never seen such a shoddy shredding job; even the $49 shredders at Staples do a better job.

  4. Ubermunch says:

    @lockdog:

    “My personal info shreddies go into the compost pile at home. A generous topping of eggshells and some cow manure and this year’s junk mail is next year’s tomatoes.”

    Hmmmm… Not to be an alarmist… but… some of the inks used are not probably the best for your soil.

  5. Quatre707 says:

    They are using strip-cut shredders…. wow. I thought those were phased out like 50 years ago, as you can only find cross-cut shredders anymore.

  6. Fly Girl says:

    What a breathtaking example of a total lack of judgment and common sense. Perfect.

  7. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    The really scary part is that it took TWENTY YEARS for someone to notice and be alarmed by it!

  8. DrJimmy says:

    Strip-cut shredders are still all the rage. My ShredZilla kills tons of documents every year.

  9. DrJimmy says:

    Shreds `em Real Good!

  10. Christovir says:

    My preferred way of disposing of confidential documents:

    1) Shred them.
    2) Then use the shreddings for lining our pets’ litter trays.
    3) Compost the sullied shreddings when the litter trays need cleaning.

    If a thief then manages to dig them out of our sealed and fenced-in compost bin and piece them back together without gagging, they’ve earned the right to steal my identity.

  11. Whtthfgg says:

    How did the FDIC auditors let the bank get away with this….that is nuts

  12. ViperBorg says:

    @Christovir: My way:
    1) Shred
    2) Burn

    Sometimes the simplest solutions are truly the best.

  13. synergy says:

    @Quatre707: Have you been in an office supply store or, well, Target lately?? They’re still sold and I know people who have them at home. I was like, wtf are you doing?? Sheesh. Some folks are just asking for it.

  14. IndustrialGradePrime says:

    @lockdog:

    That comment about the computers reminded me of something I got at a police auction in my local town hall a few years ago. In the pile of computer monitors was one of the older-styled CRT iMacs. I picked it up for five dollars, and when I got it home I noticed that there was red “Evidence” tape all over the rear of the computer, completely covering the AC plug, but the side panel covering all the ports was completely ignored. Sure enough, once I got it booted up, the entire contents of the hard drive were completely intact. I was even able to find the name, address, phone number and other personal information in a few seconds search, and I doubtless could have found much more had I been interested. I instead just manually deleted everything and put it in our basement for the kids to play some games on. I wonder who would could be in charge of the computers at a police auction when they don’t even know well enough to recognize and properly take care of an iMac….

  15. photodesign says:

    I once bought shredded paper to use for packing items we’d produced – halfway through the packing I noticed that I’d purchased shredded porn. Very graphic, still quite visible.

    Not good. There was much apologizing.

  16. timmus says:

    Why are we blaming WHH Ranch Company instead of the bank? Shame on KTKA for not getting to the bottom of this. Get with Ms. McBride and look at any of the shredded strips and you’ll have your answer, then get back to us, m’kay?

  17. timmus says:

    @lockdog: My personal info shreddies go into the compost pile at home. A generous topping of eggshells and some cow manure and this year’s junk mail is next year’s tomatoes.

    Watch out for those heavy metals in the inks… that stuff can make it into the tomatoes.

  18. MunkyBoi says:

    We recently moved, and I found a dozen old checkbooks buried in the closet – still intact, but on a closed account. Stuffed ‘em all into an empty milk jug, added a squirt of dish soap and filled it with water. Japanese have been using water to destroy paper documents forever – very effective and very eco-friendly.

  19. lordargent says:

    I have a ~$170 microcut shredder that turns paper into tiny 1×3 mm flakes.

    /also, the shredder is heavy duty, so it was worth the dough as I’ve killed two weaker shredders over the years.

    /it also came with a big tube of oil

  20. AgentTuttle says:

    @photodesign: “I noticed that I’d purchased shredded porn. Very graphic, still quite visible…”

    What kind of fascist would shred porn? You should complain. Joke.

    You ever watch a TV show where they have paperwork? ER, lawyer or office shows? Guess where they get all those stacks of paper from. Here’s your only hint: They are not shredded.

    I’ve shrieked at some of the stuff I’ve seen. Almost called some of these people to let them know their medical identity is an extra on a hit show.

  21. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    makes me wonder about the stuff where i work. it’s medical info and we DO use a secured document storage service to store it per FDA regulations. but if i recall correctly it will only be stored there for 20 years before being disposed of.

    according to the website of the company my employers use, they offer ‘secure shredding’ – just read it and while it says they offer the shredding and proof that the documents have been destroyed – it doesn’t say what they do with all those piles of paper scraps

    now i REALLY want to know what company does the ‘secure shredding’ for my credit union.

  22. reflection717 says:

    Ok, yes, this is a dumb move by the company. However, checks are among the least secure things in your personal identity anyway. It is an amateur identity thief’s dream document. Name, address, phone number, bank account number and signature all in one place! (Oh and let’s not forget when you have to put your Driver’s license info on there too or I’ve even seen credit card numbers, expiration date and all.)

    Every time you pay for something with a check think about how many people see it…
    Cashiers, bookkeepers, bank tellers, AP/AR clerks, mailmen, your grandmother, etc.

    Anyone who is truly concerned about their personal checks falling into the wrong hands should never use them. Instead find a bank with free billpay service that uses their own account to write paper checks when needed. Your account number will always be obscured. Otherwise I use a credit card for everything. I write exactly one check every month for my health insurance and that’s it.

  23. norubiT says:

    @synergy: Yes but that sort of shredder you wouldn’t think would be used commercially anymore. To be honest I didn’t know you could buy strip shredders anymore either.

  24. Syrenia says:

    @MunkyBoi: You couldn’t have mentioned this six months ago? :)

    I’ve been shredding checks from a closed account a few at a time with each shredding batch for most of the year. Finally finished.

    I’ll remember this for next time.

    @reflection717: Agreed. I write checks so infrequently that I am still using up checks that have the address imprint from the state I lived in 6 years ago. But the dentist, my landlord, and the guy at work who arranges my opera tickets — they pretty much don’t care.

    @norubiT: I worked in a university admissions office abut a dozen years ago. Our shredders were about 3′ tall and made something with a consistency midway between confetti and dust. And anything that ever had a student ID (default was still SSN at the time) on it had to be shredded. I am stunned that a bank would not have similar procedures.

  25. gregbrutsche2 says:

    “My way:
    1) Shred
    2) Burn

    Sometimes the simplest solutions are truly the best.”

    I’ve always heard that if you have more than one solution to a problem, the simplest is preferred. Thanks Occam…and ViperBorg

  26. parad0x360 says:

    @reflection717: And that one check you write is the one that could get you in trouble. Why not follow your own advice?

  27. WHH doesn’t seem like they should be the one the blame, blame the bank… they shouldn’t be giving out whole checks or, weakly shredded checks.

  28. mythago says:

    @reflection717: Do you also insist that your doctor never write anything down in your medical records? I mean, look at all the posts about how printed records go astray. Advising people that it’s foolish to use checks is just silly. Not everybody has a credit card and, as you yourself admit, there are times that even the smug and paranoid have to write a check or two.

  29. captainproton says:

    I guess the check really is in the mail. There are banks that dump checks and account information in the dumpster without shredding.

    They need to switch products and take the check material and compress them into fireplace logs.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @captainproton: Unfortunately, the papers and the inks used in many documents emit nasty and dangerous chemicals, not to mention a bunch of smoke. They wouldn’t make the best fireplace logs O_o

  30. reflection717 says:

    @parad0x360: lol, because I’m not paranoid, just careful.

    @mythago: No, again, I’m not paranoid and I have no idea what my doctor has to do with anything. I’m not advising people that it is foolish. I’m saying that it really ISN’T that big of a deal since so many people get that info anyway but if you ARE worried it is easy enough NOT to use checks and avoid this silliness.

  31. jbl-az says:

    A little over 20 years ago, we were looking for a less expensive alternative to the wood shavings and sawdust we had been using to bed the stalls of the three horses we kept. We’d heard of people who used shredded paper, and we found a near-local source. Turns out that this was a company (one of several) in the business of accepting paper trash for destruction. A lot of companies generated more paper than they could easily deal with, and it was more cost effective to pay someone to haul it away for destruction (or recycling) than to deal with it in-house.

    So we drove down to their lot, and took a few large bags already packed with shredded paper. It turned out to be a poor substitute for the bedding we had been using, so we only did this for a month. The content was a mix, but financial documents seemed to predominate. I never tried to piece anything together, but it was strip shredded (the strips were cut to a maximum length of 2″) and partial and occasionally complete account numbers from checks were visible once in a while.

    This was, of course, before privacy and identity theft were the prominent issues they are now.

  32. Feedloadr says:

    A story in my neck of the woods, wow.

    What sort of bank? The Bank of San Jacinto County. Here is the local article:
    [www.hcnonline.com]

  33. no.no.notorious says:

    maybe they’ve all be “green washed” and think it’s a good idea to recycle shredded checks

    WHATS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT?!

  34. Quilt says:

    This just goes to show that there’s no solid way to protect your identity in this society. How much can you trust all the people and companies who you need to give information to in order to survive? It’s almost impossible.

  35. Meathamper says:

    If you want to protect yourself from identity theft, just lock yourself in a shack somewhere in Africa.

  36. shepd says:

    I won’t say whom, but one of my store’s suppliers regularly used shredded invoices as cushioning. It was actually pretty funny, as they didn’t have a crosscut shredder, and their shredder didn’t work so well, you could figure out what they were charging other stores. Oooooops…

  37. puka_pai says:

    A friend recently shared this tip for disposing of paper:

    Dump used regular paper (not like glossy inserts or that sort of thing, but it doesn’t have to be only white paper, either) into a 5-gallon bucket. Add water, let it sit until it turns into slurry. You may have to stir occasionally, this may take several days or even a week. Once it’s sludgy, pour off the water and form the resulting paste into fist-sized lumps. Let them dry and use them for fireplace starters.

    I hadn’t given much thought to possible heavy metals from the ink, though. How much is likely to be there? Enough to annoy my grass if I pour it on the lawn, or enough to cause me to have mutated 8-foot carnivorous dandelions?

  38. ivanthemute says:

    @gregbrutsche2: Occam is a fan of shredding, as his Razor theory clearly shows. I, on the other hand, normally add bank statements and old bills to my grill so my charcoal will light more evenly.

  39. DerangedRoleModel says:

    @michaelleung: Just don’t trust the sons of deceased kings when they tell you about a fortune they inherited.

  40. Erwos says:

    Yeah, I don’t see the problem here. Checks are things that you hand out to strangers. If you’re afraid of just anyone seeing your check, don’t use checks. (I don’t, by and large.)

  41. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Whtthfgg: My thoughts exactly. How in the Hell is the bank getting away with handing over people’s checks like that?

    It’s really depressing that you can do everything right to protect your identity and it won’t even matter because your bank, doctor, ect. can’t even be bothered with treating your sensitive information as, you know, sensitive.

  42. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Erwos: You really don’t see the difference between the person you’re paying seeing the check and someone who wasn’t supposed to get the check at all seeing it?

  43. econobiker says:

    @puka_pai: Most heavy metals (lead) are now out of inks not because of the potential environmental after damage but because of the laws pertaining to making and then using them in the workplace…

  44. zarex42 says:

    Dumb article. So what if they use shredded checks? Routing numbers are not confidential information, and neither are account numbers. Anything printed right on a check you use is NOT PRIVATE INFORMATION. Trying to hide it is stupid.

    The problem here, if one even exists, is if anyone allows any kind of transaction based only on routing/account number. But I really don’t think that problem exists at all.

  45. Miguel Valdespino says:

    @zarex42: The problem is that it’s simple to make a fake check and use that to buy something. With the right routing numbers it’ll probably be accepted and somebody gets something for free, stealing from either the checking account holder or the bank.

  46. zarex42 says:

    @Miguel Valdespino:

    The problem is a lack of authentication, and the acceptance of bogus checks you describe; none of that account information should ever be considered confidential. Thinking of it that way is what makes it dangerous.

  47. TechnoDestructo says:

    They should get one of the shredders that the military uses. They have a build and finish that looks like it belongs in a machine shop, and they practically pulp the paper. But it’s still plenty fluffy in the collection bag.

  48. LeonoraIguana says:

    The bank and the cannery has been responsibly recycling for TWENTY YEARS
    without incident. A single customer notices her checks are included in the
    recycling program, not that she was the victim of identity theft. Why is
    she complaining? “Oh no! Something that has not happened, that still has
    not happened to me, COULD HAVE happened. Everyone panic!”