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Vet doubles as shred biz owner

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Cohen, who is a practicing veterinarian at the Animal Medicine & Surgery of Little Neck, started a document-shredding company, A+ Secure Shredding Services, last year in Bayside.Though the two businesses may seem wildly divergent, it is actually Cohen's love of nature that spawned her second career."It's really sad to see animals killed," Cohen said, citing deforestation as a major threat to wildlife. "I wanted to help and go one step further." Another reason was that Cohen's husband had been the victim of identity theft when an impersonator tried to take money out of his bank account."We weren't held responsible for the money, but it was such an invasion of privacy," she said. "We were very scared by this."So to help companies recycle sensitive documents and also help consumers protect their private information, Cohen started her document-shredding business in 2004."This has been the most incredible way to give something back," said Cohen, who grew up in Forest Hills and now lives in Bayside.Her company features custom-made document containers that have a slot on the top for documents, but are locked and not accessible to the public.The shredding takes place in a custom-built truck that has a powerful shredding machine run by a generator capable of shredding 1,200 pounds of paper each hour. The company is getting a new truck this month that will be able to handle 3,000 pounds of paper an hour, Cohen said. The truck shredder travels to offices and shreds on-site so that customers can see their documents being disposed of. All the remnants are promptly recycled.Cohen estimated that in the past year her company has served a few hundred clients, ranging from schools to government agencies to medical offices. Customers with small jobs can call for her advertised $99 "purge" job, for documents less than 400 pounds. Large jobs are charged by weight, Cohen said.A new federal law called FACTA also provides an urgent impetus for businesses to properly dispose of consumers' records, she said."People have to understand it's a legal obligation to destroy all customer information," she said. "Every single business is required to safeguard consumer information.""You have to protect your patients, clients, and customers, but you're protecting yourself too," she said, warning that businesses that do not comply with the FACTA law could face lawsuits from vulnerable consumers. "They're going to be held accountable, and there is no ceiling for class action suits," Cohen said.To help companies prove they have complied with the FACTA law, Cohen provides each company with a document of certification after a shredding job, proving the date and size of the disposal for legal protection.The opportunities for identity theft are limitless, Cohen said, citing a recent example. "My son got an application for a credit card, and he's 11," she said. An identity thief could have easily ruined her son's financial record, Cohen said. "Someone could go through my garbage and apply in my child's name," she said."It's very important that people take this seriously," she said. For more information, contact the company at 718-SHRED-58 or 718-747-3358.Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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