Document Shredding 101: What, Why, and How

Document Shredding

Paper still reigns supreme in the modern enterprise, with 73% of companies printing paper at least four times a day. And when you use that much paper, there’s always a chance that information contained therein might land in the wrong hands.

Identity criminals are always on the lookout for stray pieces of paper that may provide the details they need to commit identity crimes. Many times, they succeed, with 20% of all data breaches involving paper records. One way to guard against these crimes is through document shredding.

But exactly what is document shredding? What documents should you shred and when? What can document shredding do for your business?

Read on to learn more.

What Is Document Shredding?

Document shredding is a process of destroying documents that contain valuable individual or business data.

The process usually involves specialized paper destruction equipment known as shredder machines. These machines cut the paper into extremely small pieces, making it impossible for one to read the information once contained on the document.

Depending on your needs, you can opt to do your document shredding in-house. You can also opt to outsource your document shredding needs to professionals such as ALFA.

What Documents Should You Shred?

Part of effective document destruction entails knowing what to shred. The secret is to know what documents thieves usually look for. Generally, any piece of paper with important personal or business information is a gold mine to criminals.

Shred documents that contain your account numbers, passwords, addresses, social security numbers, family history information, and so on. Regularly go through your personal and business records, organizing them into piles of “keep” and “shred.” If a document contains information that you can easily access online, shred it.

When Should You Shred Documents?

It’s also crucial to know when to shred documents, so you don’t destroy information that you still need. The answer lies in knowing how long to store the document in question.

Some documents need to be destroyed immediately. These include sales receipts, paid billing statements, credit card offers, expired warranties, ATM recipes, and insurance offers.

Some documents you can shred after 30 days, such as pay stubs that you’re not going to use. Other documents, such as paid undisputed medical bills and bank statements, you can destroy within six months to a year.

Why Shred Documents?

As we pointed out in the beginning, the information contained in many of your personal and business documents is valuable to criminals looking to steal from you. Shredding these documents can help protect yourself, your business, and your clients. It’s a practical way to ensure that thieves can steal information from you.

Document shredding also helps guarantee that you comply with set federal privacy regulations on the safe disposal of personal information. Shredding is a fitting information disposal approach, so you don’t need to worry about violating HIPAA standards.

By shredding documents, you also get to free up space for fresh document storage.

Dispose of Old Documents the Right Way

When you use paper in your organization, it’s your responsibility to make sure that documents that need destroying are done so in the right way. One to do so is through document shredding, which helps ensure that no one can read what was contained in your paper. It’s a surefire way to protect your identity, brand, and reputation.

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