All businesses have occasion to discard confidential data. Customer lists, price lists, sales statistics, drafts of bids and correspondence, and even memos contain information about business activity which would interest any competitor. Every business is also entrusted with information that must be kept private. Employees and customers have the legal right to have this data protected. Without the proper safeguards, information ends up in the dumpster where it is readily, and legally, available to anyone. Trash is considered by business espionage professionals as the single most available source of competitive and private information from the average business. Any establishment that discards private and proprietary data without the benefit of destruction, exposes itself to the risk of criminal and civil prosecution, as well as the costly loss of business.
The period of time that business records are stored should be determined by a retention schedule that takes into consideration the useful value of documents to the business and governing legal requirements. No record should be kept longer than this retention period. By not adhering to a program of routinely destroying stored records, a company exhibits suspicious disposal practices that could be negatively construed in the event of litigation or audit. By destroying records according to a set schedule, a company appropriately limits the amount of materials it must search through to comply. From a risk management perspective, the only acceptable method of discarding stored records is to destroy them by a method that ensures that the information is obliterated. Documenting the exact date that a record is destroyed is a prudent and recommended legal precaution.
Top executives from 300 companies ranked the security of company records as one of the top five critical issues facing business. When asked which issues required immediate attention and policy development, the security of company records ranked second only to employee health screening.
Any company contracting an information destruction service should require that it provide them with a signed testimonial, documenting the date that the materials were destroyed. The certificate of destruction, as it is commonly referred, is an important legal record of compliance with a retention schedule.
Without a program to control it, the daily trash of every business contains information that could be harmful. This information is especially useful to competitors because it contains the details of current activities. Discarded daily records include phone messages, memos, misprinted forms, drafts of bids and drafts of correspondence. All businesses suffer potential exposure due to the need to discard these incidental business records. The only means of minimizing the risk is to make sure such information is securely collected and destroyed.
To extract the scrap value from office paper, recycling companies use unscreened minimum wage workers, to extensively sort the paper under unsecured conditions. The acceptable paper is stored for indefinite periods of time until there is enough of a particular type to sell. There is no fiduciary responsibility inherent in the recycling scenario. Paper is given away or sold and, by doing so, a company gives up the right to have a say in how it is destroyed. In the event of an audit or litigation, this could be a legal necessity. And further, if something of a private nature does surface, the selection of this unsecured process could be interpreted as negligent. For all these reasons, the choice of recycling as a means of information destruction is undesirable from a risk management perspective. If environmental responsibility is a concern, materials may be recycled after they are destroyed or a firm can contract a service that will destroy the materials under secure conditions before recycling them. Any recycling company that minimizes the need for security has its own interests in mind and should be avoided.
Common sense dictates that payroll information and materials that involve labor relations or legal affairs, should not be entrusted to lower level employees for destruction. But, beyond that, competition sensitive information is best protected from them as well. It has been established, time and again, that low wage employees often have the economic incentive to capitalize on their access to it. The only acceptable alternatives are to have the materials destroyed under the supervision of upper management or by a carefully selected, high security service.
The identity and records theft is out of control in today’s market
Identity theft and unauthorized disclosure of private information has reached epidemic proportions. According to the Better Business Bureau, last year alone this crime claimed more than 8.9 million victims. But information theft is not just something that affects consumers. The FBI estimates that information theft costs American businesses as much as $24 Billion in losses each and every year.
With over 40 federal laws mandating that all businesses, healthcare facilities and financial institutions protect the confidential information of their customers, clients and patients, it is imperative that you establish a shredding program. Failure to do so can expose your organization to severe fines, bad publicity and lost business.
If someone you know or possibly an employee have a problem with identity theft you can reassure them that you have a company that is insured, licensed and bonded that certifies that any confidential documents given to us, RoboShred Inc. is confidentially destroyed immediately upon our receiving it. In providing you great service and assurance that everything is destroyed, we will provide you with a Certificate of Destruction immediately by mail once your certified documents have been destroyed.
There are a number of factors that must be considered before deciding to shred documents in-house or using a shredding company.
There are many benefits to hiring RoboShred to handle your shredding needs. These include enhanced security, consistent and reliable shredding practices and verified compliance with information protection regulations. In addition, our service will cost you 3 to 5 times less than shredding in-house when you take into consideration the cost of the equipment, labor cost, office space, maintenance, power cost and disposal cost. Plus your employees can focus on their real job, not shredding.