Going Electronic? Think Before you Shred
What Should you Keep and What Should you Shred?
Converting paper documents into electronic files offers many advantages for both your business and personal life. Going digital is not only better for the environment and improves your work efficiency but it will also give you the ability to get rid of hard-copy records that often consume so much space. Shredding your paper documents after scanning them is an important step in the process of going electronic. Original copies are no longer necessary and keeping them puts your security at a greater risk, as it doubles your chances for being compromised. Not all documents are created equal, however. There are certain legal documents that must remain in their original state. How do you know which documents must be preserved and which ones are safe to shred?
Types of Documents to Keep or Shred
Documents to Keep:
- Legal Contracts and Proposals: Your company is likely to have contractual agreements with various vendors, suppliers, business associates, and even contract employees. While these signed contracts and business proposals can be saved electronically, it is usually standard practice to maintain hard copies as well.
- Employee and Client Files: Each employee will have employment records and a file on joining which contains personal identifying information that must not fall into the wrong hands. These files must be securely maintained and when it is time, they should be destroyed the right way by professionals. Any files containing information on your clients may also require to be kept in printed form for a few years, depending on the nature of the business dealings you have with these client companies. Your legal department can guide you on how long you need to maintain paper records of this type of documentation.
- Wills: A hard-copy of your will is often required by many states as a means of instruction on how to distribute your money and property after death.
- Note Payable: The signed legal document contains a written promise to pay a specific sum to an individual at a specific date or on demand. Promissory notes are often required when cancelling a financial agreement.
- Deeds: These documents contain sensitive information and are not meant to be accessible by electronic means.
Documents to Shred:
- Tax Returns: Returns are commonly filed electronically and are easily accessible through an electronic system.
- Data: You may hold a lot of proprietary data that is relevant to your business and to your client organizations. This data should be securely shredded to prevent misuse.
- Paystubs and Bank Statements: These forms will contain your social insurance number and are often stolen as a way to commit fraud. Minimize your security risk and shred these statements every month. As an employer, you are also required to ensure that any payroll related documents and banking information you have on file for your employees and contractors should be destroyed securely.
- Medical Records and Bills: Stay up-to-date with evolving industry standards and shred hard-copy medical records and bills in favor of scanning them to an electronic system.
- Insurance and Benefits Packages: From workers’ compensation insurance to medical benefits, dental insurance, workplace injury claims, and more, your company records may have a lot of information that could fall into the wrong hands. Ensure you avoid such leaks by shredding these records safely and at regular intervals.
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