5 Reasons to Keep Your Company’s Confidential Records Safe in 2018

Government data information breaches have gained a lot of attention in the media lately, but the government isn’t the only one at risk. Private and public companies are susceptible to data leaks as well. If it hasn’t happened to you, it might be hard to imagine that it could.

The reality is, data leaks can impact any company. If your company’s confidential records aren’t properly secured, compromised data could have tremendous consequences.

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to introduce new practices for safeguarding your most important records. Below, we’re discussing five reasons why it’s important to keep your confidential records safe. We also have recommendations on how to do that.

1. Confidential Records Help You Stay Competitive in Your Industry

No matter what industry you’re in, staying relevant over competitors is an important element of business success. If your company has trade secrets or sensitive information that helps you stay competitive, you want to protect that at all costs.

A leak of confidential records could benefit a competitor by giving them a glimpse at your practices and helping them develop a strategy to respond to that. Protecting your sensitive information is the best way to ensure you keep whatever upper hand you have.

2. Value Your Employee’s Privacy

Some data leaks expose sensitive and personal information about a company’s employees. Falling victim to that kind of leak can create an unpleasant work environment. You want to prove to current and potential employees that you value their privacy by doing what you can to keep their information safe.

3. Customers Expect Protection

From credit card information to family data, customers provide a lot of private information to the companies and businesses they work with. This is especially true of patients who provide confidential information to their medical providers.

If confidential records with customer information were to be made public, the trust your customers have in your company would be severely compromised. They may choose to take their business elsewhere, and will likely advise friends and family to do the same.

4. Your Reputation Matters

Even if you have an incredible reputation for customer service and satisfaction, one data leak is enough to change that in the public’s mind. When it comes to bad news, the public tends to have a long memory. You don’t want to be remembered for compromising their information. And you don’t want one negative situation to overshadow the good work you’ve done.

5. Protecting Data is Easy

For whatever reason, some companies may choose not to protect their sensitive information because they believe doing so would be difficult and expensive. The truth is, record management and offsite shredding services make it easy for any business to secure sensitive data.

Is there a cost associated with it? Of course. But it may be far more expensive not to protect this information, especially if a leak does occur.

Ready to Start Protecting Your Confidential Records?

In today’s increasingly technology-driven world, sensitive information stored online is vulnerable. Hackers or malicious software can do extreme damage, and ruin a company’s reputation in the meantime. But these situations are avoidable.

Protecting your records protects your customers, your employees, and, ultimately the success of your business.

Our New GPS Tracking Capability Takes Security to the Next Level

gps tracking records management

At Federal Records Management & Shredding we are constantly monitoring and adapting our services to give our customers the best and most convenient information management and document destruction services possible. We want our customers to be confident knowing their records and information have been kept secure the entire time they have been in our possession. This is why we have now equipped all of our trucks with the latest GPS tracking technology.

We have always used secure, dedicated trucks — driven by our certified employees — to both retrieve records for destruction at our facility and to deliver documents to our customers from our secure storage. The added GPS technology allows us to take this security to the next level. We can easily and reliably monitor the real-time location and route of our vehicles — and YOUR records — at all times. This also provides us with a historical record of the vehicles routes and stops. If needed, we can verify the route of specific document transmissions and confirm the exact timing of pickup and delivery.

GPS tracking also allows us to dispatch trucks more efficiently and monitor their progress without having to call the drivers for updates. And that means faster and more convenient service for our customers!

Federal Records Management & Shredding is the only records management and shredding company in Fort Wayne that has been AAA-certified by the National Association for Information Destruction. We offer secure on-site or off-site document shredding as well as document management and storage services. Contact us today at 260.267.9652 to talk with one of our specialists about our new GPS tracking feature and how our services can help your business easily meet all of its needs.

Information Management: The Key to an Efficient Staff and Effective Business

information management

Almost all businesses or organizations have records, documents, and other types of information that need to be retained. The right information, at the right time, is essential for staff, clients, and management. Managing information so that it is accessible, usable, accurate, and complete — all in a timely and cost-effective manner — is no small feat. However most businesses do not have an organization-wide system is in place and managing records and information becomes the responsibility of “everyone” … which — as anyone working in today’s hectic, multitasking workplace knows — likely means “no one”.

Why Your Business Needs Information Managment

All too often, the importance of records management becomes clear only AFTER one of the following problems has occurred:

  • managers are spending too much time waiting for records or crucial pieces of information
  • staff is spending too much time searching for information files or information needed by customers or clients
  • filing systems are strained and costly office space is being taken up to house no-longer-needed files
  • important, private, or confidential information is accessible to unscrupulous people and exposed to theft or fraudulent use
  • important records are improperly stored — exposing them to humidity, mold, dirt, rodents or insects — and permanently damaged
  • there is a crisis — either physical (e.g. broken water pipes, fire, smoke damage) or professional (e.g. an audit, a lawsuit) — ruining crucial records and exposing to the public the organization’s poor level of records management

Avoiding these problems just makes sense. It also makes sense to allow your staff and business to run as effectively, productively, and efficiently as possible. Leave the records management to the professionals! Federal Records Management & Shredding in Fort Wayne offers all the services, security, and cutting-edge technology to manage and protect your information for you — saving you time and money, and giving you peace of mind.

Shred Everything Policy

shred everything policy

You Can Never Be Too Careful: The Value of a “Shred Everything” Policy

Information coming in and out of your company is constantly at risk of being mishandled or stolen. Human error accounts for over 30% of the data breaches that occur in small business. Criminal “dumpster divers” are regularly hunting for personal or private information that can be found in commercial dumpsters or recycling bins. Considering the ever-increasing rates of identity-theft, as well as the increasing number of regulations to protect confidential information, it is far from prudent for any business to simply throw away documents into the trash or an open recycling bin.

There is always a chance that information can fall into the wrong hands — and that your business will be held liable.

It’s a time-consuming task to train employees which documents should be shredded. It also takes time from already busy schedules to force staff to walk to the office shredder and shred documents themselves.

Federal Records Management & Shredding suggests you simplify this task (and protect your business and save time and effort!). How? Direct everyone to assume that all paperwork is sensitive and should never go in the trash. Install our secure shredder containers and implement a “Shred Everything” policy.

Shred Everything policies are becoming the norm for businesses small and large. The benefits include:

  • document disposal is simplified
  • confidential information is protected
  • employees are easily trained
  • risk of information breaches is reduced
  • risk of regulatory non-compliance is reduced
  • paper is recycled (after shredding at the secure facility) instead of going into the waste stream or landfills

Tips for implementing a Shred Everything policy

  • make it simple
  • work with a licensed information destruction company such as Federal Records Management & Shredding to install appropriate bins and establish a destruction schedule
  • educate staff about the importance of the Shred Everything policy
  • allow an adjustment period then begin regular security assessments (i.e. checking copiers, faxes, and trash cans for stray documents)

Federal Records Management & Shredding in Fort Wayne is a NSAID AAA Certified document destruction facility. We protect all documents from the time they enter our secure shredding boxes, through being shredded at our secure facility, until they are received at the paper recycling company. We stay on top of compliance regulations to help you protect your business, your employees, and your clients. Call us today at (260) 267-9652 to learn how our easy-to-use — and economical! — procedures can keep you and your business safe from information breaches.

How Long Should You Keep Business Records?

how long to keep business records

Business Record Retention

Many business owners and office managers wonder how long records need to be kept — and which ones, specifically? The answer generally depends on the aspect of your business to which the record pertains; e.g. taxes? hiring? regulations? etc. There are a wide range of legal, accounting, and regulatory guidelines for records retention. The answer can also vary depending on your specifics business type or industry.

Keep in mind that electronic communications and documents also need to be included for preservation.

Here are some basic guidelines:

Business Income Tax Returns and Supporting Documentation

Income tax returns for your business and their supporting documents should be kept for 7 years (the period of limitation by which either you may seek to amend your tax return, or the time in which the IRS may audit your tax return).

Employment Tax Records

Employment tax records should be kept for 4 years (including information such as your employer identification number; amounts and dates of wages paid; annuity and pension payments; names, addresses, social security numbers, and dates of employment of employees)

Business Asset Records

Business asset records should be kept “until the period of limitations ends from the year you disposed of the property” according to the IRS (to help you calculate depreciation, amortization, and gains or losses on that property)

Business Ledgers and Other Key Documents

Business ledgers and other key documents including financial statements, annual reports, corporate by-laws and amendments, Board of Director information, and annual meeting minutes should be kept permanently.

Human Resources Files

Human resource files should be kept for 7 years after an employee has left or been terminated (for job applicants who were not hired = 3 years; for an employee who suffered an accident on the job = 7 years)

Other Business Records

  • Canceled Checks = 7 years
  • Bank Account and Credit Card Statements = 7 years
  • Ownership Records = permanently (including articles of incorporation, director and shareholder meeting minutes, stock ledgers, etc.)

(Note: These suggestions should not take the place of consulting with a professional to make sure you are in compliance with requirements specific to your industry and organization.)

Business Document Storage and Management in Fort Wayne

It’s understandable why business people everywhere feel confused by requirements and regulations AND swamped with paperwork. That’s how Federal Records Management & Shredding can help! Business records management is important that’s why our staff is always up-to-date on the latest requirements for records retention. We can train your staff to understand these requirements and regulations, too which can reduce your liability. And, we offer state-of-the-art records retention storage, databases, and one-day record retrieval services — all right here at our convenient to downtown Fort Wayne location.

To avoid identity theft and protect sensitive business information, be sure to properly destroy business records that you no longer need to retain— another important reason to use Federal Records Management & Shredding!

New Year’s Resolutions for the Workplace

new years resolutions for the office
The New Year is a time to give some thought to more than just personal goals for the upcoming year. It’s also a great time to set goals for improvements in the office (where we spend so much of our time, after all).

Business articles this time of year are rife with suggestions for how to make the workplace better. The most popular suggestions?

  • take breaks — leave your desk for lunch; get up and walk around the office (or outside) a couple of time a day; or, at the very least, get up for a stretching and deep breathing break every hour
  • be more positive — look for the good in other people; appreciate the efforts of others; give compliments; don’t be so hard on yourself
  • declutter and get organized —  desks, filing systems, computer files; now is the time of year to set up systems that will be easy to stick to for the rest of the year such as a clean desk policy.

Our personal favorite? Strengthen your organization’s information security. Even if your business doesn’t require compliance with information security regulations, every business needs to be aware of the risks of identity theft or other types of information fraud. No one wants to be responsible for clients, employees, or your company’s intellectual property being put at risk by not properly securing information at your workplace. The professionals at Federal Records Management & Shredding are experts in helping you and your employees understand:

  • what information should be protected
  • how best to protect it
  • how to dispose of it in a secure manner

Put information security at the top of your resolutions for 2017! It’s the resolution that will protect you, your business, your customers, and your employees for years to come.

End of Year Document Purge

end of year file purge

Clean It Up, Clear It Out: Office Clean-Up Day!

At work, most of us don’t have the inclination or the time to devote to purging old documents and files. Work time is for work! However, dealing with files appropriately is an important task that helps a business run more smoothly AND reduces the chance of privacy or confidentiality breaches. It’s also a waste of space, time and energy to keep resources — information, supplies, equipment, etc. — around that don’t contribute to the company’s productivity or mission.

One way to make this important job more appealing is to designate an entire day for the entire staff to engage in an office-wide “purging”. Here’s a suggested Plan of Action to get started:

  • Assign one person or a small team to coordinate the day. Most businesses purge unwanted documents at the end of the year. It’s not only easy to remember but coincides with the fiscal year end.
  • This team should inventory the types of documents used by your business and
    determine rules for what can go in the trash or recycling, what needs to be
    shredded, and what should go to long-term storage.
  • Establish the day and give everyone notice well in advance (with frequent reminders as the day gets closer). Make it clear that everyone is expected to participate.
  • Create user-friendly instructions for document disposal or retention to hand out to all staff. Make especially sure that managers or supervisors understand the rules and can assist staff with questions.
  • Arrange for additional recycling and trash bins; arrange for an on-site shredding company or extra bins to transport files off-site for destruction.
  • And have some fun!
  • Make it a dress down day
  • Carry in breakfast and lunch
  • Have a contest like “guess how many pounds of paper were shredded”
  • Have someone take before and after pictures of the messiest spaces or file cabinets
  • Set up a “white elephant” room for unwanted items to be up for grabs, or donated to charity at the end of the day

The team at Federal Records Management and Shredding can provide advice and services to make sure your end of year document purge is handled appropriately. We know all the ins-and-outs of the privacy regulations that affect your business and offer paper shredding and secure hard-drive destruction, as well as secure on-site records retention (with an online inventory system that makes records retrieval easy and fast). Contact Federal Records Management and Shredding today to learn how our services can help make sure your businesses end of year document purge is handled safe and efficiently.

How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

how to protect yourself from identity theft

Identity Theft: Beyond Shredding — What You Should Know to Protect Yourself

According to the Federal Trade Commission, 9 million Americans are victims of identity theft each year. Identity theft means that someone has illegally obtained personal information — such as Social Security Number, credit card data, etc. — and is using that information to commit fraud or other crimes. Restoring your credit and clearing your name after your identity has been stolen can be an arduous and time-consumer task.

Don’t put yourself (or your clients or employees) at risk. Follow these guidelines to help minimize your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.

Guard online information

Nowadays, many of us do everything from shopping, banking, paying bills, watching TV, and listening to music online. Using the same username and password for each account makes it easy for someone to gain access to accounts and sensitive information.

  • use strong passwords and change them (and usernames, too) on a monthly basis
  • never send credit card numbers, social security numbers, bank account numbers, or other personal information via email
  • be alert to “phishing”: when emails or pop-ups appear to be legitimate banks or businesses asking for personal information; if you did not initiate the contact, do not provide any information electronically
  • keep anti-virus software up to date.
  • shop online only on secure websites — an image of a lock should appear at the bottom of your browser or look for “https” in the address bar
  • pay for online purchases with a credit card which has better protection guarantees than debit cards or online payment from checking accounts
  • limit who can access your social networking sites and never post your full name, address, or phone number

Monitor your financial statements and accounts

Checking your bank accounts  and credit card statements on a regular basis will let you know immediately if there is suspicious activity.

  • monitor bank and credit card statements and report anything suspicious to the bank or credit card company immediately
  • check your credit report — by law, you are entitled to a free report every year from each of the three companies (request your copy here)

Daily Life

  • keep your mail secure by emptying your mailbox quickly or putting a lock on it; mail bill payments from the post office or a secure mailbox
  • if you will be traveling, request a vacation hold on your mail from the USPS
  • limit what you carry with you: don’t carry your social security card, and take only those credit cards or debit card that you need for that trip
  • tear the labels off of prescription bottles before you dispose of them
  • be very wary of telephone scams: never give out personal information to telemarketers
  • keep your financial documents and records in a safe at your home; lock your purse or wallet up when at work
  • keep your laptop password protected
  • before you dispose of a computer or mobile device, remove the hard drive and have it destroyed.
  • report suspicions of identity theft to www.identitytheft.gov

Shred sensitive documents

Regularly shred bank statements, credit card statements and applications, bills, and anything containing your personal information instead of throwing it into the trash or recycling. Junk mail often includes some of your personal details.

For your personal or business needs, talk to the experts at Federal Records Management and Shredding about our completely secure storage and paper shredding services to protect you, your employees, and your clients or customers. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Residential Document Destruction

residential document shredding fort wayne

Many businesses use Federal Records Managment & Shredding for confidential document destruction. But, it’s not only business that can benefit from document shredding. Residences are susceptible to identity theft as well which makes shredding not only a good idea but a necessity to protect your families information as incidences of identity theft are on the rise.

Benefits of Document Shredding

  1. Protection from identity theft
  2. Protection from credit card fraud
  3. Keeps confidential documents out of the trash
  4. Saves time and the mess of at-home shredders
  5. Your documents are shredded with documents from multiple other customers then bundled and recycled.

Residential Shredding in Fort Wayne

We offer two ways for residential customers to protect themselves and their personal documents.

Seal N’ Shred Bags

Seal N’ Shred bags make it easy for residential customers to collect confidential items for destruction. Simply fill the bag with your personal documents and papers. When the bag is full, seal the bag by removing the paper strip off the adhesive tab and bring it to our office for shredding.

The Seal N’ Shred bag is only $15 and includes the cost of shredding.

Shred Days

A few times a year, Federal Records Management & Shredding offers free shred days to the public. Our mobile shredding trucks will be on-hand for residential customers to bring any personal and confidential documents they would like shredded for on-site destruction.

View our list of upcoming Shred Days to find out where our trucks will be next.

What to Shred

Any document with personal information such as your name, phone number, address, account numbers, and social security numbers should never be thrown in the trash.

  • Bank Account Information
  • Pay Stubs
  • Bills
  • Credit Card Statements
  • ATM Receipts
  • Cancelled or Voided Checks
  • Legal Documents
  • Investment or Stock Reports
  • Luggage Tags
  • Pre-approved Credit Card Applications
  • Report Cards
  • Resumes
  • Credit Reports

Don’t let your confidential papers fall into the wrong hands. Trust your shredding to Federal Records Management & Document Shredding.

 

What Is Records Management? Why Is It Important?

what is records management

Records management. We talk a lot about it around here. In fact, it’s not only in our name, it’s in our blood. However, few may know what it is or why it’s important to their company.

What is Records Management

Records are the documents that provide all the important evidence of your company’s business. Medical records, business documents, legal filings, or other sensitive information are all obvious records that should be kept. Other pieces of information related to your business may need to be kept as well. All the information created, sent and received in the course of doing business is potentially a record. They keep track of what happened, who made the decision, and what was expected to happen next.

Records management is the handling and storage of those important documents.

 

Why is Records Management Important?

Managing information — keeping it, tracking it, and being able to retrieve it — protects your business and makes everyone’s job easier. If your records are well-managed you can:

  • easily locate documents or information when needed
  • reuse previous documents, information, or completed work to avoid “re-creating the wheel”
  • determine the most recent, or official, version of a document
  • prove why a decision was made or a process implemented
  • keep important documents and sensitive information secure
  • protect yourself, your clients, and your business

Records Management in Fort Wayne

However, most businesses do not have the time, space, or resources to effectively manage their records. That’s where we come in.

Locally-owned and operated Federal Records Management and Shredding in Fort Wayne can save your company time, reduce liability, and save money by managing this process for you. We offer climate-controlled storage location, online record management system, and highly trained information security professionals to meet your information management needs. Some specific services we offer, include:

We offer:

  • a secure storage facility with 24/7 surveillance inside and out.
  • secure pickup and delivery of your documents when you need them (being locally-operated, we offer extremely quick access to your documents)
  • indexing and barcoding allow for tracking records every step of the way and facilitates quick retrieval by providing information on the contents of every box
  • secure document destruction — when records have reached the end of their life-cycle, they can be shredded at our AAA-certified facility

The professional team at Federal Records Management & Shredding works hard to manage and protect your important information by offering state-of-the-art, records management services.

Need help managing your documents? Contact Federal Records Managment & Shredding today at (260) 267-9652 to learn more.