Spring Clean Your Small Business Document Destruction Policy
Many small businesses are trusted with confidential information provided by customers. From credit card data to addresses, phone numbers and email contact information, customers provide a great deal of information that they expect will be kept secure. Unfortunately, even the biggest companies can have a data breach and confidential customer information can fall into the wrong hands. This is a PR and customer service nightmare for companies and can undermine public trust in your business.
There are a number of steps that your company should take to safeguard the confidential information that you are entrusted to keep. One of the simplest and most fundamental things that your company can do is ensure you have an effective document destruction policy in place. Too many companies forget this basic step and fail to have a process in place for paper shredding of documents containing sensitive information. In fact, “small businesses are 10 times less likely to have an information security system set up than large businesses”, according to a survey from data security experts. This oversight can have a significant cost and is one your business should avoid. As spring approaches, it is time for your business to take action and develop and implement an effective document destruction policy.
Developing an Effective Document Destruction Policy
A document destruction policy that protects the confidential information of your customer has several different facets. For example, your company should:
Establish a policy regarding the retention of documents. Review the information you collect and files you keep and determine exactly how long each set of documents should be kept for. Once the files have passed the designated retention period, the files and documents should be disposed of through paper shredding to ensure that the confidential information is not accessed by those with nefarious intent. While the documents are being kept, be sure to limit who can access them.
Include a clearly marked destruction date on all documents and files. All files that are stored should have a visible list of their contents and should have a date of destruction clearly noted so that there is no delay in disposing of the confidential information.
Establish a “shred-all” policy for unneeded documents. Leaving papers unattended in a garbage can or a recycling bin creates a risk of a security breach since these cans and bins are frequently unattended. By instituting a policy to shred all unnecessary documents, you ensure that papers containing sensitive data are never accidentally disposed of in an unsecure fashion.
Consider working with a third-party vendor that specializes in document destruction. When the destruction date is reached, a company that has a focus on effective destruction of sensitive documents can ensure that all files and paperwork are disposed of properly to protect your customers.
Regularly implement the document destruction process. While spring cleaning is a good reminder of the importance of disposing of old documents, the fact is that this should be an ongoing process. Throughout the year, old and outdated files should be periodically destroyed so you have only the information essential to operating your business effectively.
When you have a document destruction policy in place, clients and customers will appreciate the fact that your company takes their security and safety seriously. You can also have the best chance of avoiding data breaches that could cost your company its hard-earned reputation. Do not hesitate to get started today on creating and implementing your document destruction plan.
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