Companies that want to keep sensitive data out of the wrong hands and remain in accordance with various privacy laws need to know how to properly dispose of such data. Documents containing data such as bank account, credit card, and insurance information need to go through secure disposal practices when a company no longer needs them or can no longer legally hang onto them. This guide will introduce you to the top document disposal mistakes to avoid so that you can remain in good standing with your customers, employees, and the aforementioned privacy laws.
Not Following a Retention Schedule
All companies deal with sensitive information to some degree, whether it’s employee data or customer data. This is why companies need to have a concise document retention schedules in place.
The purpose of retention schedules is laying out the timeframe in which a company is allowed to hang onto sensitive customer and employee information like medical records and tax records. Irresponsible or inexperienced companies will see a retention schedule as a suggestion, but it’s so much more than that. Keeping documents beyond the expiration date specified in your retention schedule can put you in violation of state and federal privacy laws. It also creates a higher risk of the documents falling into the wrong hands. Another issue with not following your retention schedule—and this might sound odd at first—is that it creates clutter.
When files begin stacking up more and more over time, they can become a fire hazard, not to mention that it just makes your office look unprofessional. Additionally, the space that a document or file past its disposal date takes up should be taken up by a document or file that has a purpose for being there. To maintain professional appearances and business practices, make sure to put a data retention schedule in place and abide by it whenever necessary.
Assuming Your Everyday Office Shredder Is Sufficient
It’s not an uncommon idea to use a normal office shredder to slice up important documents before throwing them away. Unfortunately, your everyday office shredder is an insufficient tool for the disposal of sensitive information for a couple of reasons. First off, it’s not secure. If you put documents through the office shredder and then toss them into the trash can, they’re still going to be at risk of theft from criminals.
Secondly, office shredders are inefficient when it comes to sensitive document disposal. In order to put pieces of paper through a shredder, you’re going to need to remove staples, paper clips, and binders—which is a step you don’t have to worry about with professional shredding companies.
Professional companies use powerful shredders that will chomp through objects like paper clips and binders with no trouble at all. Another reason that office shredders are inefficient is that—as anyone who has used shredders like that can attest—they can jam incredibly easily. This means that the employee in charge of shredding is spending more time away from their regular work tasks, which will put a dent in the day’s workflow. At the end of the day, using a professional shredding service isn’t just more secure than using office shredders, but it’s also more efficient.
Likewise—Assuming a Recycling Bin Is the Right Method of Disposal
Obviously, recycling is an important action, but you have to do it intelligently for it to be effective. Just like a normal shredder isn’t the right way to dispose of documents, neither is an everyday recycling bin.
Documents of any kind should receive disposal through eco-friendly methods, but it shouldn’t be up to you to carry out the recycling. When seeking the help of a professional shredding company, inquire about their recycling methods. If you’re speaking to a reputable shredding company, they’ll embrace the action of recycling and inform you about how they carry out the task if you ask. If you toss documents into the recycling bin, they’re just as vulnerable to theft as they would be if you tossed them into a normal garbage can.
Not Seeking a Company With NAID AAA Certification
Given the sensitive nature of the data we’re discussing, when it comes to disposal, you need to seek out a data destruction company that you can trust. One of the most important attributes to look for in a reliable service provider is NAID AAA certification. That being said, any company can claim to have NAID AAA certification. To ensure the company does truly have this certification, visit their website and look for the visible label of certification.
NAID is an acronym that stands for National Association for Information Destruction. The purpose of NAID is to keep an eye on data destruction companies through actions like audits to ensure they’re following the right business practices. When NAID hands a company an AAA certification, you know you can rely on them to carry out safe and secure information disposal methods. If you’re talking to a shredding company that does not have NAID certification, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the security and reliability that comes with AAA-certified companies.
Not Obtaining a Proof of Destruction
Seeking out a professional paper shredding service is necessary for complying with the relevant privacy laws we touched on earlier, but it’s not the only necessary step you’ll need to take. Once the shredding process comes to a close, don’t forget to obtain a Certificate of Destruction. No, it’s not a Megadeth album—it’s a form of proof that you took the extra steps to dispose of documents containing sensitive employee or customer information the right way. A Certificate of Destruction will display facts about your document disposal such as the time and date it took place. By obtaining the Certificate of Destruction, not only will you be carrying out responsible business practices, but you’ll also have the proof to back it up.
As you can see from these top document disposal mistakes to avoid, seeking out reliable document disposal services is an essential part of running a reputable business. That being said, given the prominence of digital records and information nowadays, you should also consult your disposal service about other types of data destruction. For instance, some shredding services will, in addition to physical documents, securely dispose of laptops, CDs, DVDs, and hard drives.