The Importance of Record Keeping For Your Business

If you have a chance to win a million dollars by presenting your business’s last year’s records, would you win it? Unfortunately, most small and medium business owners will miss out on this huge payout. The reason is that they don’t see record keeping as an essential part of managing a company.

Maybe no one will ever give you a chance to win this kind of money, but record keeping offers many tremendous benefits. Yes, it may be tiresome and boring, but it’s an integral tool for all companies.

Need convincing? Keep reading to see the importance of record keeping for your business.

Preparation of Financial Statements

To prepare financial statements, you’ll need to compile the business records for the period. It’s a headache doing this work without the proper records. In addition, you’ll have to estimate items like your purchases or sales for the year.

Proper record keeping simplifies this work and allows you to get an accurate image of your business’s financial position.

Identifications of Deductible Expenses

Did you know that the IRS allows you to deduct some expenses from your gross income? That means that you’ll reduce the amount of tax you pay for the period. However, during a tax audit, the IRS may request records on the deductible expenses.

Without these records, you may face problems with the IRS, which interrupts your business processes. To avoid these challenges, invest in proper business record keeping. The idea is to have documents that you can present to the IRS if requested.

Improves Business Data Confidentiality and Security

Unauthorized persons may exploit your loose record keeping system accessing sensitive business information. For example, they may access your employees’ payroll and other confidential information. Therefore, you must take measures to curb this data threat and enhance privacy.

So, what’s the best way to get rid of business paper records that you no longer need? Shred them. Simply throwing documents away can put your confidential documents in the wrong hands. Instead, work with a company that offers reliable on-site and off-site documents shredding services to ensure that company records and confidential information are protected.

Increase the Business’s Financing Options

The survival and success of your small business will depend on the available financing options. The idea is to get loans quickly for business expansion or other growth activities. However, to get the funding, you’ll need to present the business’s financial records.

The lenders want to evaluate your company’s creditworthiness and see if you can afford to repay the loan. Without the necessary financial records, you’ll miss out on chances to secure business financing. That’s why you should invest in a reliable data management system to ease record keeping in your business.

Reap the Benefits of Proper Record Keeping by Seeking the Help of a Professional Company

Your business records hold sensitive data that you can use to enhance growth and you must protect this data from people with ill motives. To ease record keeping, it’s essential that you seek the services of other top companies.

Call us today for document shredding services, to properly dispose of your company’s confidential paper records.

Save, Shred, or Toss? The Complete Guide to Important Papers

what important papers to shred

Identity theft is taking America by storm and led to more than 710 billion dollars in losses in 2020. Many people assume that identity theft is happening online, and they are right.

But thieves don’t need to hack into your computer to steal your identity. They just need to get your trash. To keep your confidential documents secure, you need to know how to store and dispose of your important papers.

What documents should you save for a few years? What documents should you shred? What can you throw away in your garbage with minimal processing?

Answer these questions and you can keep your money and information safe for years to come. Here is your quick guide.

Save Everything You Need for Day-to-Day Operations

Many people know that they have to save their tax records. The IRS advises businesses to keep their tax returns and supporting documents for several years. Invest in document storage for these papers.

You should also keep your employment tax records for at least four years. Employee identification numbers, tax returns, and W-4 forms should all be maintained.

You should maintain your corporation records forever. Your business formation documents, lists of shareholders, and copyright registrations all fall under this category.

Any contracts and legal documents should receive proper storage. Follow essential records management tips so your information stays safe.

Shred Confidential Records and Business Records

Some people hang onto their bank statements for years. While it’s important to track your finances, you can shred your statements after one year.

You should also shred documents that provide supplemental information to your tax returns. This includes receipts and mileage logs.

It is very important that you shred all documents with employee or customer details on them. You should maintain them in your office for only as long as you need them then have them destroyed by a professional document shredding company.

While many people throw junk mail in the trash, this should also be shredded along with any other mail with your personal information on it.

Toss Trash and Non-Essential Papers

You can throw away anything that you regard as non-essential. Drafts of marketing materials can go into the recycle bin. You can crumble your paper or tear it into pieces, but you do not need to call a shredder.

Envelopes without your contact information and nonconfidential sketches or notes can be tossed. Just be sure that they don’t contain any personal information on them.

If a document has information you wouldn’t want others to see, shred it. If it doesn’t, toss it.

Preserve Your Important Papers

It can be hard to tell what important papers you should throw away. Store anything you need for tax purposes or daily operations.

You should shred other important financial documents. You can keep bank records for a few years, but make room for more recent and important records.

Marketing materials and scrap paper can go straight into the trash.

Need more help learning what to keep, shred, or toss? Contact Federal Records Management and Shredding in Fort Wayne today.

4 Vital Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Document Destruction Company

Did you know that there are over 2,600 landfills across the United States? If you simply throw out your sensitive documents, they’ll end up at one of these landfills — that is, if they don’t end up in the hands of someone else first. It’s much safer to destroy sensitive documents instead of throwing them away so that they don’t get into the wrong hands.

When it comes to hiring a professional document destruction company, you want make sure that who you hire is reliable. You don’t want to turn your company’s sensitive documents over to just anyone. So how do you know who you can trust? Keep reading to learn the 4 vital questions to ask before hiring a document destruction company.

1. Are You Certified?

In theory, anyone can start a shredding service, which is why it’s crucial to make sure that you’re dealing with certified professionals.

You shouldn’t do business with anyone until you’ve confirmed that they’ve been certified by the National Association for Information Destruction. AAA certified shredding companies must meet strict yearly requirements that protect confidential customer information.

Hiring a certified shredding company will give you the peace of mind that your business and your customers are protected.

2. Where Does the Destruction Occur?

When it comes to finding a reliable document shredding company, you should ask them how they plan on destroying your documents. A shredding company may destroy your documents off-site, on-site, or both. There are pros and cons to each method.

On-site destruction allows you to supervise the process and ensure that your sensitive data is unattainable. Off-site destruction means that your papers will be leaving your business intact on a secure truck and destroyed at a shredding facility.

Learn which method the destruction company uses and how they keep your documents safe.

3. How Much Do You Charge?

Not all document destruction services cost the same. As you search for the right provider, you should write down their costs for comparison.

You may need to get a custom quote, depending on the work involved. Whatever you do, don’t forget that the cheapest may not always be the best. When it comes to sensitive data, it’s better to pay for high-quality services now rather than pay for damages later.

If your data ends up in the wrong hands, your business and your customers could pay the price for years to come.

4. How Does it Work?

Now that you’ve found out if the destruction company is certified, where they shred your documents, and how much they charge, it’s time to learn more about the process involved and how it will work for your business.

If you just need a one-time shredding service, the process will be different than if you need recurring shredding services.

If you need recurring shredding services, they will bring one or more secure containers to your office depending on your office size and number of employees. The secure bins will be placed around your office to make it easy for your team to deposit sensitive documents. They may also train your team on the importance of document destruction and to teach them what documents need to be shredded. They’ll even help you come with a destruction schedule.

Ready to Hire a Document Destruction Company?

Now that you’ve learned all about 4 vital questions to ask before hiring a document destruction company, you can make sure that all your sensitive data is safe. The last thing you’d want is for your business and customers to be compromised.

Federal Records Management & Shredding is a document destruction company in Fort Wayne. With years of experience and a AAA-certified staff, we can offer you the highest-quality document and data destruction services on the market. From paper shredding to hard drive destruction, our expert team can handle it all.

Do you have questions or concerns about our highly-rated services? If so, please be sure to reach out to us so we can address them as soon as possible.

The Importance of Keeping Your Records Safe

Are your business files and records all over the place? Is it hard to find files when you need them? An unorganized records management system could create unnecessary stress and runs the risk of legal problems down the road.

Need help? What you need is the right records management system. Your important documents have to go somewhere right? Records management is the proper organization of files in a highly comprehensive system.

Read on to learn how to file those papers efficiently and effectively.

Management

When done right, your management tracking system will include a database, the ability to save new files and retrieve them, timelines that follow regulations, and compliant deletion or records.

Each file adds to the legal and operational paper trail of your company.

These records include but are not limited to:

  • Audits
  • Bank statements
  • Tax returns
  • Income and earnings statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Proof of insurance
  • Business license
  • Invoices and receipts

Do not let the simplicity fool you, many businesses struggle to maintain keeping records safe. With the large number of confidential documents coming in and out of a business, poor records management could set the company back or find itself in legal trouble.

Importance of Keeping Records Safe

Keeping everything safe benefits your business financially and emotionally. When you have your papers in order, it will create a trickle-down effect that people will start to notice.

Taxes

You know the importance of tax season for your business. Organize your records so that when tax season rolls around you’ll find filing much simpler.

You can be on top of the game, maximizing deductions and write-offs.

Scaling

The prep work associated with such applications can slow you down. With the right management system in place, licensing, loans, and permits will be a snap.

You won’t have to worry so much about losing your records either. This will reduce your risk of being audited or penalized with fines.

Stress

Seeing a stressed-out administrator is unfortunately all too common. You will reduce the stress of your employees when you can streamline your management system. With a stress-free environment, your administrators can flow through their work more productively and focus on various other priorities too.

How to Keep Them Safe

What is the best way to manage your business records? By hiring a records management company.

A records management company will help you keep your important and confidential documents organized and secure. And with off-site storage, you no longer need to have rooms full of filing cabinets to store your documents in and you decrease the chances of risk with lost, damaged, or stolen files.

Management companies such as Federal Management & Shredding will securely store your documents until you need them and shred them when you no longer do.

Proper Paper Trail

By now you should have a better understanding of how to maintain those important documents and records. Keeping records safe is the name of the game.

To stay on top of the game, contact us to handle all your records management and offsite shredding needs.

What Is a Document Retention Policy and Why Do You Need One?

Did you know there are federal rules and regulations governing the billions of dollars in documents and records created by businesses every year? Do you know which documents to save and which can be destroyed?

If the answer is no, your company needs to set up a document retention policy or hire a professional to do so. Not having a policy governing your company’s documents could lead to severe troubles.

But what is a document retention policy? Why do you need one? Continue reading to learn the answers to these questions and more.

What Is a Document Retention Policy?

A document retention policy is a set of basic rules laid out to help your company manage confidential documents. An excellent policy should detail document management from the time they’re created until the time that they’re destroyed. Both digital and physical documents or records should be included in your company’s policy.

What Documents Should Be Included?

All important (and some seemingly unimportant) documents and records should be included in your company’s retention policy. A few primary examples of documents you’ll want to include in your policy are:

  • Invoices
  • Emails
  • Voicemails
  • Contracts
  • Operating agreements
  • Tax returns
  • Meeting notes
  • Corporate documents
  • Corporate bylaws
  • Purchase orders
  • Social media posts

This isn’t an all-inclusive list. There may be other documents or records your company should detail the management of. There may be variations in document types between industries or company sizes.

Why Do You Need a Policy?

Understanding how long each type of document has to be kept can save a lot of trouble. Keeping records too long, for example, can create unnecessary clutter in your office or workspace.

Federal guidelines dictate how long certain documents (like tax returns) need to be kept. Destroying documents too soon can lead to legal problems, which create unneeded stress.

Why Should You Outsource Document Retention?

Proper document retention can take a lot of time and effort. This is why it’s highly recommended you outsource your company’s policy and management to a document management company.

Outsourcing document retention ensures someone can manage and store essential records around the clock. These professionals can help avoid legal issues while also avoiding unnecessary clutter. Best of all, this effort doesn’t require you to hire a new full-time employee to manage it.

More Questions About What a Document Retention Policy Is?

A document retention policy lays essential rules on how documents or records are managed from creation until destruction. These policies are crucial because they help companies avoid both clutter and legal issues. If possible, outsourcing this task is highly recommended.

Do you have more questions about what a document retention policy is? Or would you like to inquire about professional records management assistance?

Contact us today. One of our associates would be happy to answer any questions you still have. They can also give you more information on professional management services if desired.

How to Avoid a HIPAA Violation When Storing Records

Did you know that a HIPAA noncompliance fine can cost you tens of thousands of dollars?

If you’re a Fort Wayne healthcare professional or involved with the storage of sensitive patient information, knowing the ins and outs of HIPAA regulations is essential to keep you and your company out of legal trouble. 

But what’s the best way to avoid a HIPAA violation when storing patient records? Keep reading to find out.

What Is a HIPAA Violation?

HIPAA protects the private or sensitive information of patients. When you record patient information, it shouldn’t be accessible to anyone outside of the healthcare system (or health insurance system, if that’s your area of expertise) without expressed permission from the patient. 

When you leave documents somewhere that they’re easily accessible for people who aren’t supposed to see them, you’re putting yourself at risk of a HIPAA violation. 

When you have a HIPAA violation, your healthcare center is at risk of fines or worse. 

Do You Keep Digital Records? 

There’s been a push in the medical industry to make a change from physical to digital records. These documents aren’t stored anywhere that prying eyes can easily access, unlike traditional records, which may be stored around the office or in an accessible closet or drawer. 

That said, it’s still not impossible for someone to find digital records. Any kind of data breach will result in more damage than a rogue record being uncovered (though neither of these is ideal). 

Many people in the healthcare industry aren’t yet ready to switch to digital records, or they want to keep both digital and physical documents. 

How Can You Store Paper Records? 

If you choose to keep paper records alongside or instead of digital records, you need to know how to store them (and dispose of them) the right way.

It isn’t sustainable to store all of your physical records in your office. There’s only so much room, and organization becomes difficult when patients stack up. As we mentioned, you also put yourself at risk of a HIPAA violation if documents are improperly stored.

Disposal is also an issue. If you dispose of documents in such a way that they can still be read by someone who isn’t meant to read them, you’re still liable for that. 

It’s a good idea to invest in records management. Records management companies handle the storage space and security so you don’t have to in your own office. They also transport sensitive and confidential documents to and from the office safely.

When you’re ready to get rid of the documents that you no longer need, they make it easy to dispose of them. The documents are shredded into small strips, along with documents from other companies, making it impossible for anyone to be able to put documents back together. 

Don’t Risk a HIPAA Violation

Storing patient records puts you at risk of a HIPAA violation, but you can take steps to protect yourself and your healthcare center. By using professional storage solutions, the problem is taken out of your hands. 

You can get secure and accessible storage and disposal, so your patients’ information stays safe. 

Are you looking for the best document storage company around? We want to help you manage your records. Contact us with your questions so we can start working together. 

5 Document Management Mistakes to Avoid for Small Businesses

Are you worried about mismanaging your small business’s documents?

Proper document management has helped a lot of businesses prosper with efficient work. It promotes team productivity, task accuracy, and can help defend against data theft. However, poor document management and consistent error can lead to business failure.

To keep your employees’ and customers’ data safe, you need to know what not to do. A small document management mistake can cost time, money, and even a lawsuit when you’re on the wrong side. Here are some of the most common document management mistakes to avoid.

1. Keeping Files Around Too Long

The first mistake that businesses make is not disposing of old files. It doesn’t matter if it’s employee or customer data. Old files will clog up your operations and will only be a nuisance later on.

A good document management strategy should include the disposal of older documents. A good rule to follow is to remove documents that age past a certain time, like a year or two past their creation date.

2. Not Following the Management Guidelines

The best document management strategy should have guidelines that everyone should follow. However, it’s expected that some people won’t follow them, only focusing on their work. This attitude is what affects your business’s productivity and customer satisfaction.

Make sure everyone follows the guidelines within your document management strategy. Simple things like adding names for files can streamline the documenting process.

3. No Proper Schedule

Having no proper schedule can lead to a mixed record with many errors. If you’re thinking of separating your data, it can be tedious and time-consuming.

To avoid any of these mistakes, make a schedule. A schedule will get your employees in sync when passing and archiving documents. This allows you to allocate time to other aspects of your business.

4. Not Shredding Sensitive Documents

Another mistake made by most businesses is not shredding their documents. This applies to highly confidential documents that you can’t risk having leak to other people. Most think it won’t become an issue, but not getting rid of these documents always comes back to bite you.

What you need to do is shred these documents. Depending on the contents of your documents, there are appropriate security levels for shredders. Keeping a shredder handy is a great way to protect your business from potential lawsuits.

5.Not Keeping an Extra Copy

Most businesses see the value of keeping a physical copy of their data. It’s much better than having them digitized, opening them up to easy theft through hacks and such. However, there’s no guarantee that, despite being vital documents, you won’t shred them by accident as we mentioned above.

This is why it’s important that you keep an extra copy of essential documents. You only need to keep them safe to prevent data leaks. This is important if you’re thinking of keeping your documents on-site.

Document Management Mistakes to Avoid

Never ignore the power of data management. Even if your business is small, it can help it grow at fast speeds. Use data management for your business and avoid these document management mistakes today.

We hope we were able to point out some of your mistakes in document management. Looking for a secure off-site shredder to address vulnerabilities? Contact us today!

How a Document Shredding Company Can Help You Get Organized in the New Year

New year, new office organization goals! Now that it’s 2021, it’s time to make sure your office is in the best shape possible. If everything is organized, you’re likely to have a healthier mindset and more productive employees. 

That means getting rid of waste in the office and not keeping around anything necessary. This, of course, can be a hassle — not everything can be tossed in the trash. And, sometimes what’s there is sensitive and needs to be dealt with properly.

That’s where a document shredding company can help you. Find out how a document shredding company can help your office get organized in the new year.

Why Do You Need to Shred Documents?

You might be tempted to throw some papers in the trash that should be shredded. After all, putting papers through a store-bought shredder can be time-consuming, and you might not have thought to look for a local document shredding company.

However, it’s important that you don’t give in to the temptation of a quick, easy fix.

Identity theft is all too common and many times, people do it by digging through trash. There, they can scavenge financial information or even social security numbers and personal details that make it easy to impersonate someone

Don’t make it so simple for them. Documents with confidential information should be disposed of properly to keep your company, your employees, and your client’s sensitive information safe.

So Why Use a Shredding Company?

Store-bought shredders can be handy for a few sheets of paper but if you’re dealing with a lot of confidential information, you will want to go with a professional.

Shredding documents takes away from the time you and your team could be putting into something more productive. A shredding company should provide affordable services that can take care of this monotonous task for you. All you have to do is hand over the sensitive material, shaving hours or days off the time you need to spend on this. 

Another reason to hire a shredding company versus using a store-bought shredder is that most shredders that you buy at the store don’t shred documents fine enough still leaving some confidential information to be put back together.

When you hire a professional document shredding company, your documents are finely shredded with other company’s documents which means there’s no possibility of putting the shredded documents back together.

How to Choose One

So you’ve decided that a document shredding company might be a good idea, but how exactly do you go about choosing one?

You want to make sure that the company you choose is a good one and not just the first one you find. It may seem like an easy job but remember: you’re handing very sensitive material off to this company. Even when it’s just going through a shedder, you’re going to want to ensure that you can trust the people doing it.

Google “document shredding companies near me” and look carefully at reviews. Speak to the representatives and ask how they handle document shredding. Are they certified? Do employees of the shredding go through a background check? What other local businesses use their service? Finding out as much as you can about the company will help you to find out if they’re reputable and trustworthy.

Are You Ready to Use a Document Shredding Company?

If you’re ready to hire a document shredding company, do your research and find a good one. Get rid of those sensitive materials and sleep peacefully at night knowing you’re kicking off 2021 right by getting rid of those papers that could cause trouble in the trash. 

For reliable document shredding in Fort Wayne, Indiana, contact us today

5 Best Practices for Protecting Sensitive Employee Information

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to keep your employee information safe. This not only helps protect your employees against identity theft and fraud but it can also help protect you against a lawsuit if your company is the victim of a security breach. 

There are several steps you can take to make sure your employee records and information are safe. Keep reading to find out more. 

1. Develop and Define Your Policies and Procedures 

The first thing you should do to protect employee information is to develop and clearly define your policies and procedures. Define what information your company will protect and how they will protect it. Make sure you only collect the data that is necessary for your business purposes. 

When you take steps to reduce the amount of data your employees give to you, you’re lowering your risk of unauthorized access in the first place. 

Have a plan in place for what information you’re going to keep, how you’re going to protect it, and stick to it. 

2. Maintain Record Security 

How exactly should you go about protecting this information? Your first step should be locking up any physical records of important employee information. Then, you should encrypt and password protect your digital files. 

Change your passwords frequently and maintain a secure server. Regularly maintain your electronic systems to make sure that newly developed security risks don’t threaten your business’ security. 

3. Shred Unnecessary Documents

As soon as your business doesn’t need a piece of information anymore, get rid of it. You should dispose of all employee records at the end of your legally mandated retention period. This has to be done in such a way that they can no longer be read or reconstructed. 

To comply with federal regulations, contact a third-party vendor to shred and dispose of the records

4. Restrict Access

Another way to make sure your employee information stays safe is to restrict the number of people who can access it in the first place. Only employees or vendors who need to know the information should be able to access it in any way. 

Keep a log of everyone who accesses this important information. Record who they are, when they looked at it, and their reasoning for doing so. For digital records, ensure your software can log this information as well. 

5. Avoid Using SSNs

Avoid transmitting, printing, and using employee social security numbers when possible. Many places have laws that restrict the employer’s use of social security numbers in the first place. 

Don’t require your employees to use their SSNs for employee IDs, and discard the information as soon as you no longer need it. Employee IDs are unique numbers you can use to track your employees once the initial tax information has been set up. 

Keep Your Employee Information Secure

It’s of dire importance that you comply with all federal, state, and local laws when it comes to maintaining employee information. No one thinks that a security breach can happen to them until it does, and at that point, it’s too late to protect your employees, and yourself, from fraud. 

For more information about how to properly dispose of employee information, contact us today

Document Archiving In 2020: How Has It Evolved

We’ve all had that moment where someone in the office asks for an old document. What did we do with it? Is it on our desk, in storage, or somewhere in the filing cabinets?

73% of business owners still print documents at least four times a day which means you most likely have plenty of paper to wade through. Add the documents that arrive in the mail and you can see the clear problem with storing paperwork.

This is where document archiving comes in. You can keep your important documents without taking up space in the office.

With the year coming to a close, let’s take a look back and see how document archiving has evolved through the years. How has it changed in the 21st century? Read on to learn more.

What Did Document Archiving Look Like in the Past?

Edwin Grenville Seibels invented the vertical filing cabinet in 1898 and revolutionized how people stored documents. The trouble is, filing cabinets take up a lot of space, and searching for specific documents takes time. However, paper can get lost, whether someone is careless or there’s a flood or fire.

Electronic document management systems (EDMS) made things easier in the 1980s, but this wasn’t a perfect system due to the limits of the technology. Over the past couple of decades, computers have also evolved. Now you can scan documents to the cloud, where staff can access them from all over the world. You can search for documents using keywords, and it helps with remote working.

The accessibility of cloud storage was the archiving evolution in the 21st century. When you can scan a document and view it in the cloud on your smartphone, do you still need paper?

How Secure Are Document Archives in the 21st Century?

All these benefits are great, but paper documents are still more secure than digital ones.

With paper documents, a person needs to physically access the room where your paper records are stored. Meanwhile, a savvy hacker can access your digital documents from miles away. A single data breach costs companies an average of $8.19 million.

Managed document facilities are more secure than storeroom filing cabinets. These facilities use 24/7 security to make sure only the right people have access to your files.

Such facilities often offer GPS tracking when you retrieve documents. You’ll always know who has access to your files and when they have access.

Tips for Archiving Paper Documents

Follow these five tips to keep confidential documents safe.

  1. The best way to keep paper documents safe is to use a managed off-site archive solution. This means no one can access your records by simply walking into your storage areas. 
  2. Confirm how long you need to keep financial records. Once records pass this age, destroy them. 
  3. Don’t keep copies of documents. Only archive one copy, which cuts down on storage space. Again, securely shred any copies.
  4. Many businesses also archive documents on computer hard drives. That might include your office server. Make sure that hard drives are secure and destroy the hard drive when archived documents are no longer needed. 
  5. When you’re updating computer hardware, choose hard drive destruction for your old machines. That way, no one can reconstruct your operating system to access old digital files.

Explore Our Document Management for Business

You can see that document archiving has changed somewhat. It started out in forgotten storerooms or dusty basements. Then it moved into filing cabinets, before making the leap to digital. Now, you can pair your digital strategy with a paper-based off-site archive.

Are you ready to explore a secure approach to document archiving? Contact us today to discuss your needs and get a quote.