Discarding of personal information properly

Author: Channel 8

If you own a business, whether you have one or a hundred employees, you may want to head to the store by next week and pick up a shredder.

A new provision on an old law makes it illegal for you to just throw away person information.

Volunteer TV Consumer Expert Shirley Nash-Pitts is here with more.

Even if you are doing something as simple as checking the background of a perspective nanny or cleaning lady and you check their background, you need to get rid of their personal information.

We’ve talked a lot about the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act since it went into effect late last year, it gives you a free look at your credit report each year.

But a small provision effective on June 1st requires companies, whatever their size, properly dispose of your personal information.

To do so you can burn it, pulverize it, or the easiest way…shred it!

If the info is on your computer you need to erase it and destroy all the disks you saved it on. Or you can hire someone to dispose of the information.

If you don’t and the information gets out, you could get fined by the feds, or sued!

If you’re looking for a shredder, they’re easy to find a cheap, smaller model for small businesses or just to have around the house runs about 30-60 dollars.

Industrial shredders could run upwards of 800 dollars.

And one note, even if you don’t have any employees, it’s a good idea to have a shredder around the home to shred your own personal documents.

Destroying Personal Information

There are a number of ways you can destroy personal information, depending on how the information is stored. Here are ways you can protect your identity and personal information.

Paper Records
Shredding
How protected you are from identity thieves with paper shredding really depends on how well the documents are shredded. The more pieces the document is in, the harder it will be for a thief to put it back together.

Pulping
Pulped paper is reduced to its fibers. If carried out correctly, it is a very secure method of destruction. Pulped paper is usually recycled.

Burning
Obviously, if the record is burned, there’s no way a thief is going to get their hands on it. A couple of things to keep in mind when burning documents though, you should always obey local fire codes, use safety precautions when burning, and remember that densely packed bulk paper does not burn well, so if you have a lot of documents, consider a commercial incinerator.

Important: Burying is not an appropriate method of destruction. The records are not destroyed immediately and may take months or even years to break down. Records that are buried may also be uncovered within hours or days of being buried.

Electronic/magnetic media
Magnetic Media
Records stored on magnetic media (Computer Disks, Tapes) can be “bulk erased” by subjecting them to a strong magnetic field. For secure destruction magnetic media can be reformatted. Backup copies of the records also need to be destroyed. The media can then be reused. Note: just deleting does not remove data from magnetic media and is therefore not sufficient for the destruction of records.

CDs, DVDs
Records held on CDs and DVDs can be destroyed by cutting, crushing, or other physical means of destruction. Rewritable optical disks should also be reformatted before being disposed of or re-used.

Hard drives
Hard drives of personal computers and servers should be reformatted before computers are disposed of.

Important: Do not just delete files from electronic media such as floppy disks, rewritable optical disks and hard disks, as the information can be recovered.

Non-Electronic and non-paper media
Videos, film and microforms (microfilm/ fiche/ aperture cards/ x-rays) can be destroyed by shredding, cutting, crushing or chemical recycling.

If you are having difficulty deciding which option is right for your needs, or you think you need extra protection when destroying personal records, contact a document destruction company.

Paper Shredding Services