Document shredding is a front-line defense against inadvertent release of confidential data. In today’s litigation-minded society, even a minor breach in the security of personally identifiable information can lead to a costly lawsuit. Or it could severely damage the reputation of your business with equally costly fallout. In the case of your proprietary business information or trade secrets, it could negatively impact your competitive standing.
Confidential information is often compromised because documents are not properly secured and eventually destroyed. The surest means of guarding against your documents falling into unauthorized hands is through document destruction and subsequent recycling of the paper waste into pulp to be reused in new paper production. Since most businesses are not equipped to implement effective document destruction procedures — nor can they afford the personnel commitment required for carrying it out — third-party shredding services have proven a popular solution.
Professional shredding services will provide you with the means to secure your documents that are awaiting destruction, pick up or shred the documents onsite on the schedule you set, and securely transfer the shredded waste to a recycling facility. Not only is this a best practice in document security, it also is a “green” solution that benefits the environment by reducing the number of trees consumed on paper production.
Your business should develop a document destruction policy that specifies the minimum and maximum retention periods for your documents and a system for administering the policy.
Determining your schedule for calling on shredding services depends on several considerations:
- Regulatory guidelines that specify retention periods.
- Contractual requirements with customers, clients or other business partners.
- Accommodation of additional restrictions arising from audits, investigations or litigation; statutes of limitations may also play a role.
Your records retention policy must include safeguards against inadvertently destroying documents that could be required in a civil or criminal action. In addition, the policy should clearly delineate responsibilities and identify the types of documents that fall under its control.
Several state and federal laws require strict security over personal information and in many cases specify severe penalties for noncompliance. In addition, class-action lawsuits are a very real threat to violators. Proper shredding of documents is a critical step in compliance. Among applicable federal laws are:
- HIPPA — the Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act applies primarily to the heath care industry with strict guidelines for protecting sensitive patient data.
- The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act —requires financial institutions — banks, insurance companies, securities firms, etc. — to safeguard personal financial and to have a written security policy that includes properly destroying documents.
- Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act — requires all businesses to destroy documents containing consumer information so that they cannot be reconstructed or reread.
In developing your policy for document security, it is a good idea to keep these best practices in mind:
- Limit access — allow as few employees as possible access to documents containing confidential information and ensure they are fully trained in your procedures; employee carelessness or misconduct can be the source of information leaks.
Shred everything often — include all documents that might contain confidential information in your destruction policy and shred them often to avoid accumulating documents; this also helps guard against miscalculations by employees as to what should be destroyed.
- Audit your policy on a regular basis — review your policy frequently to identify shortcomings and areas for improvement; update the policy as often as needed.
- Shred before you recycle — do not count on recycling to protect your confidential information; although recycling will ultimately result in destruction of the documents, they are subject to many unsecure stops long the way; even shredded documents in the recycling pipeline should either be secured or mixed with enough other waste to make reconstruction virtually impossible..
- Employ professional shredding services — retain a reliable provider who will provide complete security for your documents to be destroyed, from the moment you have moved them into the destruction cycle; your business is probably not armed with the equipment or the properly trained staff to handle this process in house.
Remember, safeguarding confidential information is more than just a best practice, it’s the law. Secure document shredding services help prevent information security breeches to save you time, expense and reputation.
Whether your company needs corporate paper shredding, industrial paper shredding, recurring shredding service, shred bins, shred services or hard drive destruction, Shred Alaska is your premier document destruction company in all of Alaska.Get In Touch