Secure Shredding 101

Victoria McClurg

In the past six years, identity theft has cost people over $107 billion in the United States, according to the 2017 Identity Fraud Study conducted by Javelin. Identity thieves can capitalize on many opportunities to steal private information — and mishandling documents provides one such opportunity.

Though identity theft is a constantly growing threat, about one-third of respondents to a 2014 Ponemon Institute survey did not have a policy for the secure destruction of paper documents. This checklist can help you organize your approach to secure shredding and document management.

Cover Your Bases: What To Keep

Your organization should first decide what to save and establish a process for storage and destruction. Some documents can never be destroyed. It’s wise to keep hard copies of anything related to federal or state matters, but these documents should be stored in a secure location.

For example, these are some documents you should securely store:

  • Social security cards
  • Business licenses
  • House deeds and mortgage documents

You want to keep these documents in a safe, accessible place in case you need them. Replacing original copies of these types of documents can be expensive and time-consuming, involving contact with government agencies.

What to Shred

Your organization should consider shredding:

  • Paperwork with personal information (e.g., birthdays, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers)
  • Records with financial information (e.g., credit card applications, health insurance documents, pay stubs, bank statements)
  • Documents containing account information (e.g., account numbers, passwords, usernames)
  • Junk mail containing bar codes that may be associated with personally identifiable information

Tax returns should be saved for a while in case of an audit, but after three years you can securely dispose of them. “Keep three to four years of tax returns in a firebox,” Brent Neiser, senior director of the nonprofit National Endowment for Financial Education, told Business Insider.

By shredding sensitive documents regularly, you can minimize storage costs and eliminate risks to your organization and its customers.

Managing documents can be a tedious job, but it’s incredibly important for your business. Partnering with a third party can ease your fears and offer a more sophisticated solution.

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