If you run a legal practice, medical office, collections firm, or other business that regularly generates a great deal of confidential documents, you may find that managing retention of your records and ensuring compliance with state and federal law can be a full-time job in and of itself. Moving to digital recordkeeping can bring some additional physical security, but still won't solve the issue of disposing of documents that have customers' personal health information, Social Security numbers, or other sensitive data. How can you dispose of your old records after they've been migrated without breaking the law or wasting your employees' valuable time? Read on to learn more about the most secure -- and legal -- ways to dispose of a large volume of confidential documents.
Remote shredding services
For situations in which you're dealing with a storeroom (or more) of older documents and quickly running out of storage space, a remote shredding service may be your best bet. These companies will come to your business, collect any confidential documents, and securely dispose of them in an offsite facility. These documents are often given the full destruction treatment, being shredded multiple times and mixed into a paste or used as recycled paper. Most shredding services will charge you a flat rate per pound of paper destroyed, although some offer tier pricing and bulk discounts for those who have a large quantity of documents.
This service provides several advantages for businesses with a large backlog of confidential data. First, you'll be able to avoid spending time -- or paying employees to spend time -- shredding pages and pages of documents from the last few decades. You'll also have insurance against any inadvertent breach of the confidential data. Once a shredding service has taken custody of your confidential information, it is legally responsible for any civil damages arising from disclosure of the data. If you're later sued for a HIPAA or Fair Debt Collection Practices Act violation because some of the client or customer data you collected was leaked or sold, you may be able to offer up your service contract as a defense and avoid paying high legal fees.
Commercial cross-cut shredder
If you suspect your transition to computerized records will take some time, as will phasing out paper records, you may want to invest in a commercial-grade cross-cut or micro-cut shredder so that you can regularly dispose of confidential documents in-house. Unlike the shredders marketed for household or small business use, commercial shredders offer a number of automation features that can make using such a shredder no more time-consuming than scanning a document. Cross-cut shredders are considered the much more secure option when compared to shredders that only cut the paper in one direction, as it can be nearly impossible for anyone to reconstruct even a small portion of the document. Micro-cut shredders cut the documents into even smaller pieces and are considered appropriate for any business short of an ultra-secure government or military organization.
When looking for a commercial shredder for your business, you'll want to consider two factors in addition to cost: convenience and reliability. You'll likely want a shredder that features a deep bin that feeds the documents into the blades. This can allow you to place an entire ream of documents inside the shredder, close the lid, and then go about your business while the shredder does all the work. Choosing a shredder with positive customer reviews or from a company with a reputation for customer service can also ensure you won't have unshredded documents piling up while you're waiting on a repair (as can purchasing a limited warranty to cover the cost of any replacement parts or repair labor). For instance, you might want to consider destroyit 4002 shredders.