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.

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.

4 Reasons to Consider Offsite Storage for a Small Business in 2021

Keeping your company’s data safe is imperative when it comes to ensuring the long-term success of your organization.

Since even a short period of downtime could cost you thousands of dollars, it’s more important than ever before to take the necessary precautions.

Fortunately, using offsite storage is a straightforward way that you can do so. Let’s take a look at everything you should know.

1. An Extra Layer of Security

As you might guess, offsite storage provides an extra layer of security that can’t be obtained through other means. This is simply due to the fact that the information stored in this way will not be physically present at your organization.

So, you’ll never have to worry about situations that involve unauthorized access. This is particularly useful for industries that require a large amount of security, such as the tech or healthcare spaces.

Additionally, you could run into compliance issues if you don’t properly secure sensitive information.

2. Guaranteed Accessibility

By utilizing offsite storage, you will ensure that you have guaranteed accessibility to the information that you need when you need it.

For example, let’s assume that you need to procure certain financial records. Under many circumstances, it can be difficult to locate this information if you keep all of your important records at your facility.

With off-site storage, we can quickly recover your needed documents and securely deliver them to your office within hours.

No more digging through rows of filing cabinets trying to find where your documents were filed.

3. Disaster Recovery

Unfortunately, it’s not impossible for disaster to strike. This could result from hardware damage, software corruption, or even the malicious action of another individual.

Regardless of the cause, it’s imperative that you have a reliable way to restore your company’s data.

Otherwise, a handful of consequences could arise. For example, let’s assume that your company is severely damaged during a natural disaster.

If you don’t utilize offsite storage to secure certified copies or original documents, you might find yourself experiencing crippling data loss.

4. Highly Scalable

As your organization grows, so will your data storage needs. In fact, it’s often impractical to keep all of your business records on-premise.

This is especially true for companies that have operated for a long period of time, as these records can quickly accumulate as the years go on.

You can work with your service provider to increase or decrease your level of storage depending on your needs. Additionally, there is virtually no ceiling on how high you can scale this level of service.

So, there’s no need to worry about running out of space.

Offsite Storage Can Be Invaluable

It’s essential that you keep the above information in mind. From here, you can ensure that you get the most utility possible out of offsite storage and keep your organization sufficiently protected.

Want to learn more about what we have to offer? Feel free to reach out to us today and see how we can help.

Ways to Implement a Clean Desk Policy When Working From Home

clean desk policy

A clean desk policy sounds pretty straight forward. It’s as simple as keeping your desk neat and tidy, right? In a sense, yes—but also no.

It’s actually the difference between ensuring workplace safety and creating trouble for not only yourself, but your job.

While many of us are working at home either temporarily or indefinitely due to COVID-19, it’s a good practice to continue using the clean desk policy when working from home.

Whether you’re at home or in the office, instilling a clean desk policy for yourself can save time and trouble. Here are three tips for implementing a policy, and making sure it stays in place.

What is a Clean Desk Policy?

A clean desk policy is a company’s directive to ensure that all confidential documents are cleared from their workspace at the end of the day and securely stored or placed in shredding bins.

It’s a great way to keep offices clutter-free and tidy as well as protecting secure data and documents.

The University of Cincinnati’s clean desk policy calls for employees to be diligent about storing sensitive and confidential information—whether on paper, storage media, or hardware.

The university’s policy states that employees should lock computers when their desk is unoccupied, and properly shut down at the end of the day.

Passwords, printouts, storage devices, keys, and even whiteboards containing “restricted or controlled documents” must be removed, erased, or placed in a locked drawer or compartment of some sort when not in use.

Restricted or controlled documents can be anything containing personal information, health records, financial data, or even graded papers if you’re a teacher.

What your business considers restricted or controlled documents will vary, but a clean desk policy ensures protection no matter what.

1. Create a System for Storing Documents

Having a records retention schedule is a great way to ensure you won’t build any clutter, especially when working from home.

Certain businesses have to keep records for a set amount of time. Even if this isn’t the case, you should create a system for retaining, storing, and destroying documents.

In your home, this could mean keeping a lockbox or filing cabinet near your desk to store documents. Once a week—or at the end of every workday—be sure to organize the records by category, or any system that fits your recordkeeping.

After a set amount of time (this will depend on how long you need to retain any documents), the documents may need to be moved or destroyed.

Creating a records retention schedule will keep all of that on track so you don’t have to think about it after your home office feels like a never-ending wall of documents.

2. Which Documents are Worth Keeping?

We’ve defined important work documents as anything containing personal information, health records, financial data, or anything relevant to your career.

But what about personal records? What’s worth keeping? Where should you keep them? How long should you keep those?

Important home documents worth keeping could include your passport, annual tax return (And receipts if you’re self-employed or a business owner!), birth certificate, will, social security cards… the list is never-ending.

Again, what you decide to keep is ultimately your choice, but you should keep the longevity of any documents you hold onto in mind.

3. Create a System for Shredding Documents

Disposing of documents may feel scary at first, but it’s necessary to manage your home office. A document destruction policy is just as important as a clean desk policy. Talk to your company to find out their document destruction policy. Should you bring documents into the office once a week or once a month to add to the shredding bin?

If you need help with records keeping, retrieval, and destruction, contact us today. We’ll help you implement a clean desk policy, as well as find you the best option for your home office or business.

Our COVID-19 Response Plan

covid-19 update

With the Shelter in Place order issued by Governor Holcomb going into effect at midnight tonight, we wanted to keep our customers up-to-date on our operations during the COVID-19 shutdown.

We know that many of our clients will still have confidential information through this time and our objective remains to keep your corporate information safe through confidential records management and destruction services.

In an effort to keep our clients and employees safe, we have made the following necessary operational changes.

Records Management Services

We know the files and boxes we store for you are essential to the operation of your critical business and medical facilities. We will continue to take requests for file and box deliveries however we will not be picking up new files or boxes during the shut-down period.

We have instructed our staff to frequently sanitize all supplies, containers, and trucks and will practice safe social distancing in order to keep everyone safe.

Shredding Services

Shredding service is limited, please email lfritz@federal-recordsmanagement.com or call (260) 267-9652 regarding your individual business. We will return your call within 24-48 hours.

Drop-Off Shredding Services

We will not be accepting drop off shredding until the mandatory shut-down period has lifted

Shred Events

All shred events have been canceled through June 1st and we will re-evaluate this service at that time.

Stay Safe During the COVID-19 Shutdown

If your employees are working from home, please remind them that the safety of their documents is always critical and ask them to store any printed papers or notes in a bag or box at their home. Once they are able to return to work they can bring them to your office and place the contents into our shred containers.

We will continue to closely monitor developments and recommendations from the CDC and our state and local governments and take appropriate measures as needed.

We wish all of our clients good health and appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate this uncertain time.

Paper File Organization for 2020: Understanding What Documents to Purge or Keep

Now that we’re into the second decade of the millennia, there’s no excuse for your office to look like it’s stuck in the ’80s. Nothing tells customers you’re out of touch or disorganized more than piles of paperwork strewn about.

Even in the age of the internet, physical paperwork still has its place among lots of businesses. You can still present yourself as a modern and up to date office while relying on physical documents. The key is having an efficient paper file organization method.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and get organized in 2020, read on for some tips on how to get your business to where you want it to be.

Create a Paper File Organization System

Your office likely already has a process on how to handle the paperwork it receives. It’s also pretty likely that a lot of employees have their own variations on that process, which can clog up the flow.

Create a clear and concise procedure on how to handle paperwork, including time frames each step should be done. It may take a while to get your team on board, but a successful procedure is made not in the planning stage but the consistent implementation stage.

Consider how you’re storing all these documents as well. Are they easily accessible to those who most often would need to access it? Are they well organized within the storage containers you’re using?

Different types of paperwork might require different methods of organization. Let your team know that this is a trial and error process and that their feedback is helpful in determining the right adjustments to make.

Stick to a Records Retention Schedule

As you’re organizing paper documents, keep the future in mind. The last thing you want is to revert back into the mess you’re trying to work yourself out of. Create a retention schedule based on how your business tracks time (yearly, quarterly, seasonally) to review what should be archived or destroyed.

Once you work out what this long term schedule looks like, make sure it’s viewable by your team. They should be able to anticipate these milestones so they can prepare for them. Send reminders as well. Once the schedule becomes an office habit, you’ll see an increase in productivity.

How to Dispose of Your Documents

Once you know which documents need to go, the best solution is to shred them. The permanency of this can be a little scary at first, but having a clean office without documents you will never need is a great benefit.

There are different options for shredding, including offsite shredding for larger volumes of paperwork. There are also a lot of myths surrounding how paper shredding works in an office setting. Make sure you’re well informed before you make a decision on what works best for your business.

You might also want to consider destroying electronic data as well. Hackers are constantly evolving their methods to obtain personal information on your customers. The best way to avoid a catastrophe is permanently deleting any information that isn’t immediately pertinent to your workflow. You can’t rob an empty vault.

Get Your Business Organized Today

Remember to consult with your employees concerning your paper file organization ideas. They may have some insight into things you haven’t considered. The point is to make things easier on them so they can better do their jobs.

What organization methods have you used in the past that are obsolete now? How have other facets of business in your industry adapted over time? Comment and let us know!

And if you’re interested in records management or shredding for your business, request a quote today.

5 Essential Strategies to Heighten Customer Data Protection

customer data protection

Did you know that it’s your responsibility as a company to safeguard customer information?

Inside threats are some of the most significant threats to security in an organization. An employee or other stakeholders may breach data either intentionally or unintentionally. Protecting customer information doesn’t need to be a challenge.

Customer data is a valuable resource and businesses should be smart when handling crucial data to avoid losing it or exposing it to third parties.

In 2016, there was a data breach at Uber after hackers accessed private information for millions of customers. The company used over $140 million in compensation. The incident damaged the firm’s reputation for failure to protect data.

Most recently, Equifax and Capital One both experienced data breaches that exposed the personal information of hundreds of millions of customers. You may be wondering, if these large businesses can’t protect customer data, how can I?

In this guide, discover quick strategies to heighten your business customer data protection plan.

1. Educating your Employees

Research has shown that most data breaches are caused by employees unintentionally. Ignorance among employees is dangerous and the management should ensure that they are well-informed about various measures to protect customer data.

The education program should include information about how to properly store and dispose of confidential documents

2. Keeping Technology Up to Date

If you keep electronic documents, keeping technology up to date is an essential step for any organization that values the security of its customer data. Ensure that all devices have the latest anti-virus software and all users should be educated about the need to allow recommended virus updates.

3. Access to Customer Data

Not every employee needs access to your customer’s or employee’s personal information. Keep access to sensitive customer information limited to those who need it to perform their job duties. The fewer people who have access to data, the fewer opportunities for a breach.

4. Destroy Data No Longer Needed

Knowing how and when to destroy documents and data will help ensure your customers, employees, and businesses personal information stays safe. Determine how and when to destroy digital and paper documents and stay up to date with Data Disposal Laws.

Different professions have different requirements under the Data Disposal Laws. Make sure you follow the best practices of your industry.

Develop guidelines and policies for data retention inside your business to handle the storage and destruction of documents and data.

5. Work With a Professional

Customer data is a valuable resource for all firms. Businesses should safeguard it using all possible measures as failure to do so can damage an organization’s reputation and lead to huge losses.

Working with a professional company such as Federal Records Management & Shredding in Fort Wayne, IN is one of the best ways to protect confidential documents and data. Professional Records Management companies can help train employees on how to handle your customer’s and your businesses personal information as well as help you set data retention policies.

Simply deleting data or using store-bought shredders isn’t enough. A professional destruction company can help you make sure that your files are properly destroyed.

Need help protecting your businesses sensitive information? Contact us today to learn more about our records management, hard drive destruction, and on-site and off-site shredding services.

Data Destruction: What Data Should Your Company Destroy?

data destruction fort wayne

What if a little information really was a dangerous thing for your company? Many companies hold onto as much information as they can for both compliance purposes and record keeping. But it turns out there is some information that really should be destroyed.

Wondering what needs to be destroyed and what you should keep? Keep reading to find out!

Know the Rules

It’s important to destroy data that you no longer need. However, you may be legally required to hold onto certain data longer than other data.

For example, the IRS can look at business tax records that are up to six years old. Because of this, many individuals and businesses hold onto important records for seven years to play it safe.

Make sure that you are very familiar with the policies containing how long you must hold onto things like confidential information. Ensure this is followed by creating retention policies and enforcing them strictly throughout the company.

Why Destroy Data?

We’ve discussed knowing when to hold onto data and when to destroy it. But that leaves a big question: why destroy data in the first place?

The short answer to this is “efficiency.” And this efficiency extends to both the physical and the digital realms.

For example, if your computer hard drives and company e-mail are clogged with unnecessary data, things are going to move very slowly. And if this information is held as physical media, then it is literally taking up space that could be used for more valuable documents.

Plus, you never know who could access old data that you don’t destroy.

What Documents Should Be Destroyed?

Now you know why data destruction should be a priority for your company. What, then, should you be targeting? It turns out this is something of a trick question.

It’s generally good to hold onto things like employee records and tax documentation. And you should retain important information for employees such as their pension documentation.

Conversely, you can destroy the same data after a set period of time. For example, it is legal in many states to destroy these same records after a period of six years unless they are still useful or required (such as documentation that would be required for a current or upcoming legal case).

Beyond this minimum period of time, it is recommended to destroy as much physical and digital data as possible. Every file destroyed moves your company a step closer to peak efficiency!

What other documents should be shredded?

  • Employee pay stubs
  • Employment records and payroll information
  • Credit card bills or offers
  • Bank statements
  • ID cards
  • Legal documents
  • Canceled or voided checks
  • Anything with a signature
  • Budgets
  • Contracts
  • Strategic Reports
  • Training information
  • Appraisals
  • Applications
  • Purchase orders
  • Internal reports
  • Customer lists
  • Old computer hard drives
  • Any document with personal or confidential information

Methods of Data Destruction

So, you’re ready to destroy the data. How, then, do you go about it?

Physical data is relatively easy to destroy. It’s simple to shred selected documents. However, store purchased shredders leave larger pieces of information that can still be read or put back together. Instead, opt for a professional shredding company. They can help you come up with a destruction schedule to be sure your confidential documents are kept secure and private.

Electronic data is trickier to destroy. For example, it’s not enough to simply delete the files from a computer because such data can still be accessed from the device. Make sure your electronic data is properly destroyed by a hard drive destruction company.

Document Destruction in Fort Wayne

Now you know more about how data destruction works. But do you know who can help you complete this task? At Federal Records Management and Shredding, we specialize in safely and securely destroying both documents and data. Contact us today to learn how we can help you keep all of your files secure.