Have you ever thrown important documents out and then been concerned about identity theft? Does ripping bank statements or credit card offers up just not feel safe enough to you? You should consider investing in a document shredder, either for your home, or for work. They can be especially valuable at work, especially if you work an in industry where important personal information flows in and out of your office on a regular basis. Being careless could mean lawsuits for your company and serious trouble for whoever’s information was stolen. More and more offices are starting to use secure shredding services, either in-house or by contracting paper shredding services that take materials to be shredded. There are also smaller paper shredders available for use in home offices. If you’re wondering: “What documents can be destroyed?” the answer is: “Pretty much anything!” However, there are some items that should always be taken care of as a matter of confidentiality.
What Documents Can Be Destroyed and When?
Legally, financial and legal documents (like contracts) should be held onto for at least seven years (longer if the job or service is not yet finished), although most companies hold onto these records for much longer as a matter of documentation. You should always shred documents with personal information (social security numbers, contact information, etc.,) on them and any financial information (banking information, credit card numbers, tax documents, and more).
There are laws that govern how long you legally need to hold on to documents, but anything with that type of information on it should be disposed of in a confidential way. This is where paper shredding services come in, once you’ve decided what documents can be destroyed and what can be kept. Indeed, although there’s been a lot of worry regarding online identity theft, keep in mind that under 10% of identity theft cases happen online. Most cases involve printed documents.
What Are the Advantages of Getting a Paper Shredder?
Other than the increased security of any client personal information (and your own), you can also save a considerable amount of space at home or in your office that might have been taken up with the files. Given that the United States consumes over 80% million tons of paper every year, one can imagine how much space could be made if we shredded more of our important documents. Surprisingly enough, despite the digital age, around 95% of business information is still kept on print documents. Shredding paper can not just help save office space, it can also keep down the risk of fire.
Like mentioned before, shredding is a great way to keep personal and professional information secure and confidential. Indeed, doctors and health insurance providers legally must have document shredding, due to the sensitive information they collect. State and federal laws mandate that medical organizations must have a comprehensive data-destruction plan in place.
Even better, the Environmental Protection Agency found that just about 80% of the paper mills in the United States are specifically designed to use paper that comes from shredding and recycling programs — so all that shredded paper is being put to good use. And recycling itself causes 35% less water pollution and almost 75% less air pollution than making paper from scratch, says the EPA.
What Are My Options for Document Shredding?
You can either do it in house or contract someone to do it for you. Many prefer to hire companies that leave a shredding bin in their office and come take care of it when it gets too full. That way the companies know the information is already shredded and can’t be touched, but they also don’t have to dispose of the shredding information themselves (which can often be difficult if there’s a high volume flowing through the office). If you’re a smaller office, a personalized shredder might be the right size for you and considerably cheaper.
It’s important for your family or colleagues to know what documents can be destroyed and what should be kept, in order to have protocols and policies set in place. Enjoy greater security and peace of mind when you invest in document shredding services.