Though our society is moving to many forms of electronic document storage, let's face it: there are still a number of paper documents we just can't live without. This includes things like social security cards, car titles, birth certificates, home utility bills, and even pay stubs.
And while such documents are important, this doesn't mean we need to keep them forever. When you're ready to dispose of important documents, keep one thing in mind: it's a bad idea to simply toss these documents in the trash, which fraudsters may end up finding.
Instead, you should properly shred and destroy such documents. This will keep yourself, and others, safe. Read on to learn about the many reasons that shredding documents is important.
Identity theft can result in many things, like your tax return getting paid out to a fraudster, or a criminal taking out a credit card in your name.
In 2016, more than $16 billion was stolen from Americans as a result of identity theft. The root cause of many complaints? Tax fraud, credit card fraud, and utility bill fraud.
All of these involve paper documents like tax returns, credit card statements, and utility bills where identity-related information can be found: legal names, social security numbers, or home address. Fraudsters acquire these documents a number of ways, including going through home or corporate trash bins, mail theft, etc.
For these reasons, it's vital that you shred important documents like these in order to prevent identity theft.
If you own a business - even a small one, like participation in a direct-sales company - it's crucial that you protect the paper documents about your customers. Your customers trust you to protect their information, like payment details, purchase records, or other confidential data like medical records.
Nothing is more humiliating (and damaging) than your name hitting the headlines because you couldn't protect your customer's identity. And fixing this problem can be expensive, too: often, businesses are forced to pay for ongoing identity theft protection if they're found responsible for a breach of customer data.
And, a worst-case scenario is that the customer hits you with a lawsuit. This is very expensive and time-consuming, regardless of the outcome.
Your own employees are just as important as your customers. During the initial HR process, chances are you made copies of your employees' social security cards, driver's licenses, birth certificates, etc.
Employee paystubs and performance reviews are considered confidential, too. Think of it this way: if you'd hate to see it on the front page of your local paper, it's shred-worthy.
Often times, employers are required to keep certain documentation for a period of time after an employee leaves the firm. During this interim, these important documents must be safely maintained. And when it's permissible to dispose of them, ensure they are shredded.
Fines & Penalties
If you don't properly destroy/shred key documents, you or your business can face fines and penalties.
Let's take HIPPA for example, which protects the health information of individuals. If a business is found guilty of negligence, meaning they didn't take appropriate steps to protect customer data, they could face fines of up to $1.5 million, and/or jail time.
Other organizations may issue penalties, too, like those administering the Fair And Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA).
In short? Take inventory of the customer and employee information you maintain, and make sure you understand the regulatory agencies protecting this information - and the potential implications of improper document disposal.
Whether you're considering shredding options for home or business, here's something we can all benefit from: time savings.
Reviewing, filing, and organizing paper documents takes time. By shredding confidential documents that you don't need, you're not only saving space (see below) but you're saving yourself time in figuring out where the document goes, how it should be categorized, and when it should be re-reviewed.
And time is money, folks. Let the shredder do its work: your energies are better spent elsewhere.
Important Documents Take Up Space!
This one is often overlooked: paper takes up space! Many companies have entire closets, rooms, or floors dedicated solely to paper document storage.
Consider implementing a solid records management system, which is a fancy way of saying that you should have a plan for maintaining and disposing of any important documents. As you review each file of information, it should be assigned a disposal date (e.g. "employee separation + 1 year" or "tax filing year + 6 years").
As you work through disposal dates and begin the actual destruction (i.e. shredding) of documents, you'll be surprised at how quickly you can free up room for other, more relevant things - like a new coffee machine or workspace treadmill!
Consider the Environment
More than half of business waste is composed of paper. But the good news? Paper is recyclable.
If living and working "green" is important to you, listen up. Shredding important documents isn't just about protecting yourself, your customers, and your employees. It's also about protecting the environment.
Consider implementing a locked shredding recycle bin, where documents are locked inside of a trash can until the shredding company retrieves, destroys, and recycles them.
The coolest part about it? Think of all the other things your recycled paper will go into: insulation, packing material, or even new paper.
We Can Help You Shred and Destroy Your Documents
Whether you need just a few documents shredded during your monthly home cleanup, or you have many thousands of pages to shred, we have the right product for you.
We even offer various forms of "cut" like cross-cut or strip-cut, so you can be extra picky about the level of destruction needed for your particular documents.
Contact us today and let us help you start clearing out your drawers!