Document shredding is an important practice for protecting sensitive information and maintaining privacy. It is important to businesses, organizations of all kinds, and individuals. The specific rules for document shredding may vary depending on your location, industry, and the type of information you are handling. However, here are some general rules and guidelines to follow:
Know The Applicable Privacy Laws And Regulations
Familiarize yourself with local, state, and federal laws and regulations governing document retention and disposal. These laws may specify how long you need to retain certain types of documents and how they should be disposed of. For example, each state has different retention requirements for medical records.
Identify Sensitive Information
Know what information is sensitive and needs to be shredded. This includes financial records, medical records, personal information, business plans, and any documents containing confidential or proprietary information. It is recommended to have a “Shred All Policy” so you dramatically reduce the chance that a document with sensitive information is mistakenly not shredded.
Use A NAID AAA Shredding Company
A document destruction company that has been awarded the AAA Certification from the National Association of Information Destruction (NAID) means that its policies and procedures exceed the strictest standards in the industry.
Establish A Document Retention Policy
Create a document retention policy that outlines how long you will retain various types of documents. This policy should also specify when and how documents should be shredded once they are no longer needed.
Secure Document Storage
Store sensitive documents securely until they are ready for shredding. Use locked filing file cabinets, controlled access file rooms, or safes to prevent unauthorized access. If you store offsite make sure the facility is secure and monitored 24/7 and request their security procedures and policies.
Regular Shredding Schedule
Implement a regular shredding schedule to ensure that documents are destroyed promptly. This can be daily, weekly, monthly, or based on your document retention policy.
Educate your employees about the importance of document security and the proper procedures for secure document disposal. Make sure they understand the importance of secure document disposal. Give them a copy and have them review your information protection policies. Have them sign an acknowledgment.
Shred All Documents
It’s generally best to shred all documents rather than trying to determine what should or should not be shredded. This simplifies the process and reduces the risk of accidental disclosure.
Make Sure You Know How Shredded Materials Are Disposed Of
Make sure the company you are hiring to shred your documents has the shredded paper recycled. No other disposal method should be accepted.
Keep Records Of Shredding
Maintain records of when documents were shredded. In addition to your log, you should get a Certificate of Destruction for your shredding vendor. This can be important for compliance and auditing purposes.
Don’t Forget About Digital Document Destruction
In addition to physical paper documents, be mindful of digital documents and files. Use secure methods to delete and dispose of electronic files that contain information. Make sure you have the hard drives from decommissioned computers removed and physically destroyed. You should get a Certificate of Destruction listing each destroyed hard drive by serial number.
Don’t Be Afraid To Seek Professional Advice
Depending on your industry and the nature of your business, it may be advisable to consult with legal or compliance experts to ensure that you are following all relevant rules and regulations.
Remember that document shredding is just one aspect of a broader information security strategy. Protecting sensitive information should be a priority for individuals and organizations to prevent data breaches and maintain trust with customers, employees, and stakeholders.