Why Document Shredding Might Be Your Best Investment This Year
What do a school, a dental practice, and a beauty salon have in common? They all create paper records that at some point need to be destroyed. And though cybercrime grabs headlines, low-tech “dumpster diving” remains one of the easier ways criminals can get their hands on sensitive records of individuals as well as information about a business that would be valuable to a competitor.
Every organization will fall somewhere in between a “hoarder” mentality and a laser-focus on document management. If you’re already taking care of document destruction, it’s possible you could be doing more. If you’re not shredding documents, you could be putting your clients’ and company’s information, as well as your reputation, at risk. Add in possible legal action caused by improper storage or destruction of sensitive records and it’s easy to see why investing in secure document shredding could be your best move this year.
In addition to the risks just mentioned, if you’re not taking care of document destruction, you’re also going to eventually run out of storage space. Pro tip: To keep from drowning in a mountain of paper, write a record-retention policy — identifying classes of documents and having rules around how long to keep them.
So what are your options for document shredding? The DIY approach is fine, as long as you’re using a micro-cut shredder. A strip-cut shredder is much cheaper, but it also offers the lowest level of security. A micro-cut shredder, on the other hand, will cost more, but it produces basically confetti. No amount of tenacity will allow micro-cut documents to be reassembled.
If you generate a high volume of documents or you’re looking to perform a purge of old documents, you’ll want to hire a professional document shredding service. To provide a quote, they will need to know the volume of documents to be shredded, especially for a one-time purge. Lastly, for ongoing service, they’ll want to know how frequently you wish to have documents shredded. You might need both a purge and a service contract to get you on track to safely and securely destroy records you’ve been accumulating through the years as well as handle your current volume so you won’t need to ever purge again!
The type of information you collect and retain will determine what security protocols need to be in place. For example, medical records are impacted by HIPPA rules which include retention and destruction requirements. You’ll want to discuss potential vendors’ familiarity with industry-specific document destruction guidelines.
Generally, volume is expressed in pounds. Use these guidelines and you won’t need to break out a scale: A banker box is 12 inches wide,12 inches long, and 10 inches deep. It holds around 30 to 35 pounds of paper. A larger legal file box holds between 50 and 60 pounds of paper.
You should also think outside the “banker” box as you look at your shredding needs. You might have hard drives, as well as CDs and other multimedia, that should be destroyed. If you do have these items, make sure your potential vendor can handle those needs, too.
One last consideration. Would you sleep better at night if you knew for certain your documents have been properly destroyed? When you work with a professional third-party shredding service, you can request a Certificate of Destruction or an electronic video of your documents being destroyed and in compliance with industry standards added peace of mind.
Now that you know some of the risks of not regularly destroying documents — sensitive data falling into the wrong hands, possible legal action for not following mandated protocols, and just plain running out of storage space — it’s time to take action. It’s as easy as starting with a call to Higher Information Group.
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