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.

5 Industries That Really Need Document Management Systems

records management system fort wayne

Documents are big business and there’s no denying the fact that storing and organizing documents can be a major task. That’s why having a document management system capable of meeting the needs of business is crucial for operating efficiently. And yet not every industry has the same needs.

Read on to discover some of the industries that have the greatest need for powerful document management systems.

1. Government

This one should come as no surprise to anyone. After all, governments at all levels must compile and maintain vast amounts of documents. Federal, state, and local, have to be able to track countless documents for everything from taxes to passports to parking tickets.

From Washington, D.C. to the smallest county in your neck of the woods, governments process more documents than any other type of industry.

2. Manufacturing

There are so many aspects to manufacturing, that the number of documents required to keep everything running can be astounding.

Warehousing alone places a huge burden on a company’s ability to efficiently manage their documents. This is an industry that requires the tracking of parts, materials, shipments, invoices, and contracts, just to name a few.

It’s vital to be able to pull up information at a moment’s notice, make changes, and meet deadlines, as quickly and efficiently as possible at any hour of the day or night.

3. Healthcare

Imagine going to an appointment with your doctor, or having an emergency that requires hospital care, yet they don’t have the documentation necessary to process you. This would create a crisis.

Information is the lifeblood of the healthcare industry. From administration to healthcare professionals, to IT specialists, everything must run optimally at all times.

Healthcare companies depend on immediate access to patient records and compliance documents, as well as insurance information. This is a massive and dynamic industry with massive document management needs.

4. Transportation

There is no end to the document management needs of the transportation industry. This is an industry that relies on complicated logistics, where documentation is constantly changing and must be available around the clock. Whether shipping over the road, by rail, sea or sky, every other industry on the planet relies on transportation to deliver products on time, and that’s no easy task.

5. Education

The final industry on our list is education. Every educational institution relies on good documentation management to keep up with every aspect of student life. From transcripts to testing, to grades, this information is important and must be efficiently managed.

You can’t put a price on education, and the education industry can’t put a price on the value of a good document management system.

The Importance of Document Management Systems

This article only scratches the surface on industries that rely on good document management systems.

No matter what industry you are in, you simply cannot operate efficiently without the support of reliable documentation. And the quality of your document management could be the difference between success or failure.

If you need help with your document management, give us a call today to learn how we can help your business run more efficiently and effectively.

Next, see 5 reasons why data protection is more important than ever for your business.

Strictly Confidential: Here Are 3 Types of Confidential Documents You Should Keep an Eye on at Your Workplace

confidential records

A recent study found that most companies don’t have the technology to keep employees from sharing confidential documents. What’s worse, 68% of companies surveyed said they don’t know where their confidential info is stored.

Part of keeping your company’s confidential documents safe is understanding what types of documents are confidential. Here’s a list of 3 types of confidential documentation that you should take good care of.

1. Contracts and Commercial Documents

Some of the most important confidential documents include contracts and other business documents. Confidential documentation must be properly handled and stored to protect both your organization and the third-party.

Most contracts have a confidentiality clause. Your contract with important clients could become void if it fell into the wrong hands. Plus, contracts have a lot of sensitive data. Such as the cost of the services, and the names of the involved parties. If a competitor got their hands on this document, they could use it to hurt your business or steal your clients.

Make sure you limit physical copies of commercial documents. Keep those copies in a confidential file that is not easily accessible.

You may also consider offsite record storage for additional security.

2. Confidential Employee Information

Another important aspect of confidential documentation is employee information. This includes personal data such as Social Security Numbers, date of birth, marital status, and mailing address.

Identity theft is a huge issue that requires constant vigilance. In fact, in 2017 one in 15 people were victims of identity theft.

Safe employee information prevents identity theft and fraud. But there’s much more employee information that should be housed in a confidential file. This includes employee resumes, background checks, interview notes and tests, performance reviews and disciplinary paperwork. Employment information such as pay rate, employment contract, level of benefits, vacation and bonuses are also confidential documentation.

There are also a number of admin info related to employees that need to be kept safe. This includes pay stubs or direct deposit forms. Tax forms, time sheets, and any other payroll documentation as well. Even once an employee is no longer an employee, you still need to keep their data confidential. For example, resignation letters, unemployment claims, and termination records.

3. Office Plans and Internal Documentation

Many people don’t realize that their office floor plans, seating arrangements, internal processes, and procedure manuals are confidential documents.

Most organizations have detailed office layouts that include exits, seating plans and so on. You likely also have some procedures that employees need to be able to do their work. Sure, all your employees have access to them. But you don’t want it to get into the hands of those who would use it for nefarious purposes.

If you can, store these documents electronically. Ask employees to limit print outs. And when a version becomes old, make sure it is securely shredded.

Final Thoughts on Confidential Documents at Work

We hope this list helps you see the extent of the confidential documents in your organization. By becoming more aware of what counts as confidential, you can take steps to ensure it is safe.

Need help coming up with a records management and shredding plan to keep your documents safe? Contact us. We help companies in and around Fort Wayne keep their confidential records safe and we can help you too.

Next, learn 5 ways to avoid customer data theft.

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.