5 Document Destruction Myths You Should Ignore

If you run a business, then you already collect sensitive information in some capacity. This includes, but is not limited to, names, birthdates, addresses, and social security numbers. In the wrong hands, this information can cause a lot of problems with identity theft for both the individual and the company.

When it comes to document destruction, it pays to understand the facts. There are many myths in the paper shredding industry, but believing the myths can cost you time, money, and ultimately, compliance.

Myth #1: I don’t have to shred my documents.

Actually, the law dictates otherwise.

Personal identifying information is often collected by businesses and government and is stored in various formats, including digital and paper. Many states have enacted laws that require entities to destroy, dispose, or otherwise make personal information unreadable or undecipherable.

Many industries have document destruction regulations as well, including the medical industry (HIPAA), credit industry (FACTA), banking industry (GLBA) and government entities (GSA).

Don’t just toss your old documents in the trash. When in doubt, destroy them.

Myth #2: But the trash is safe.

Not especially.

Think about the amount of people who will have access to an open trash receptacle throughout the day: office workers, cleaning staff, visiting clients, delivery persons. Even worse, corporate spies or people looking to publicly damage your company will always start with your dumpsters. While it’s fine and good to have faith in people, you should never gamble with sensitive information. Always keep sensitive documents in a locked bin until it’s time to destroy them, rendering the information useless and out of harm’s way.

Myth #3: Shredding documents in-house is perfectly safe.

In-house paper shredders may seem like a solid investment for offices that generate a decent amount of paper that needs regular destruction, but what businesses fail to realize is that office shredders come with a unique set of challenges that can pose as a major detriment on many levels. The biggest obstacle, and probably the most important when it comes to in-house shredding is one that is often overlooked: potential security breaches due to the mishandling of sensitive documentation. In this situation, employees who are not trained to properly handle documents that need destruction almost always have catastrophic outcomes in the form of identity theft or, worse, the leaking of sensitive information. When your employees do the shredding, you will likely have entry-level employees perform the task, in which case you may expose sensitive personnel records and competitive information to individuals that are not meant to see it.

Myth #4: My secrets are safe. It’s the law.

Well, yes and no, but only if you can prove you have taken the proper precautions. The Economic Espionage Act protects companies that protect themselves. Essentially, if you toss your trade secrets in the trash, it is no longer considered proprietary. While the law is in place, it serves companies who take “reasonable measures” to protect their secrets. The solution? Keep your defunct trade secrets in a locked bin and rely on a document destruction company to properly destroy and dispose of them.

Myth #5: It is better to save records, “just in case.”

There are laws in place that dictate how long businesses should hold onto old records, but there is also a risk of keeping records past their retention periods, including risk of a security breach and non-compliance with current privacy legislation.

Don’t believe the common myths and throw your identity out with the trash—help safeguard against identity theft with proper shredding and disposal of your sensitive documents. Call Legal Shred today!