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.

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!

5 Must-Have Records Management Tips for Keeping Company Information Safe & Secure

Sensitive information hides everywhere in a typical business. From employee data to confidential client agreements, a lack of organization might lead to lost or stolen documents. Thankfully, a solid records management system helps prevent these mishaps.

If you’re looking to start managing your records or hire a records management service, these five tips will help you get started.

1. Limit Important Document Access

When it comes to important documents, not everyone should be able to access them. By limiting access to one or two people, documents are safer and less likely to get mishandled. Access can be granted for a limited time to those who need it.

Be sure that when granting access, files are signed out with the date, time, and the person’s name who is taking them.

2. Keep Important Documents Locked Up

Around one in five data breaches involve paper records. Loose documents with no barrier to access can easily get misplaced or stolen.

To lock up physical documents, consider getting a filing cabinet with a key. The key should stay with a trusted employee and should never get copied.

If your business has an abundance of documents to store, consider an off-site storage service. Off-site storage keeps documents safe and organized without taking up space within your business. If you require a specific document in-person, the service delivers it quickly.

For digital documents, consider an online cloud storage system with a password and limited employee access. These platforms also help keep digital files organized.

3. Destroy Records Safely

Destroying confidential documents isn’t as simple as throwing it in the trash. Confidential documents need to be safely destroyed to prevent tampering and theft.

For digital documents, it’s best to destroy where they’re stored. Wiping a digital document off the internet isn’t as secure as hard drive destruction because hackers can still find a way to access the data.

Physical documents are much easier to destroy. A paper shredder removes all traces of personal information. However, if you plan on shredding documents in bulk, consider a shredding service. Shredding services can handle a large number of paper documents and they’re shredded finer than you could do with store-bought shredders.

Using a shredding service ensures that your documents are properly shredded.

4. Train Your Employees

All of your employees should be trained in handling confidential information related to the business. For example, a cashier taking an order over the phone should never write down the customer’s credit card number.

They should also be aware of what constitutes a confidential document and how it should be stored or destroyed.

Security precautions help maintain good security and prevent theft. Businesses with a high number of confidential data should also teach employees to stay mindful and guard documents as a priority.

5. Conduct Audits

Even with proper training, mistakes happen. Audits help monitor potential threats, possible confidentiality mistakes, and other issues.

Consider performing a quarterly audit involving security and sensitive documents to stay on top of it. This audit involves checking physical and digital safety measures.

Audits may also involve extra training or procedure refreshers. The more often you train your employees on safety standards, the stronger your security precautions will be.

Relying on Records Management

Not only does records management keep vital business records safe, but it also helps businesses stay organized. With all of the available options for safe management, any business can kickstart their path towards proper records management.

If you’re looking for professional records management for your business, look to Federal Records Management & Shredding in Fort Wayne, IN. We provide paper shredding, records management, and provide hard drive destruction services as well as employee training to make sure your business’s documents are secure.

What to Do with Checks After Mobile Deposits

While it may not be one of the most used forms of payment anymore, accepting checks at your business is a smart move. Checks have lower fees than credit card transactions, and they allow people to buy your products and services if they don’t have a credit card or cash on hand.

Technology today even allows you to deposit the checks without going to the bank. You can do this through mobile deposits. If you use this service, you may wonder what to do with the checks after depositing them. Learning the right way to handle these checks after depositing them is vital for your business.

Continue reading to find out what to do with checks after mobile deposits.

Keep the Checks for 30 Days After Making the Deposits

Even though you can instantly deposit a check through your bank’s mobile app, it may not be deposited into your account for days or weeks. 

The mobile deposited check will still need time for the check to clear, and some banks place holds on checks for a few days or weeks. 

It’s a good idea to hold on to the check for at least 30 days or until you’re sure that the check has cleared and the funds have been posted to your account.

While you wait for the check to clear, place the checks somewhere secure like your safe to protect them while you wait. Write “DEPOSITED” in big letters on the front of the check to avoid redepositing them or in case the check falls into the wrong hands. 

Keeping them longer than needed increases the risk of them falling into the wrong hands and puts your customers at risk for identity fraud or being out more money.

How to Safely Get Rid of Deposited Checks

After the checks have posted to your bank account, what should you do with these deposited checks? As with any banking document or anything with personal information, it should be securely destroyed.

Offsite shredding services provide a way to get rid of deposited checks safely. This service also helps to destroy other documents that contain sensitive, personal details.

A company that offers this service collects your documents and shreds them offsite with other documents making it impossible for anyone to put back together. 

What to Do With Checks After Mobile Deposits

Now that you know what to do with checks after mobile deposits, contact us to set up offsite shredding services of your mobile deposited checks and other confidential documents. 

Check out our website or give us a call to learn more about the services we offer.

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.

Stay On Time, and On Top of Data, With a Records Retention Schedule! Here’s How to Make One

With the advancement in technology, the amount of paper documents a business maintains has decreased. Maintaining paper records is still important due to concerns regarding system failures and lost data. And, companies are required to keep certain records for set periods of time.

It’s easy to get into the habit of storing records in back offices and warehouses. Over time boxes accumulate and you start storing them in areas designated for other uses. Having a records retention schedule is important and a way to end the overaccumulation of documents.

By having a schedule, your business is intentional when it comes to securely destroying documents that you no longer need.

Does your business need a records retention policy? Keep reading for tips on helping your business manage its records.

What is Records Retention?

Records retention is the act of preserving documents and records generated by a business. Each industry has its own guidelines on which records need to be saved and which can be destroyed.

For example, most business records should be retained for a minimum of seven years. There are some records such as deeds and mortgages that should never be destroyed.

Records are often kept in file cabinets and boxes. If you have a lot of documents and documents that you will maintain indefinitely, you may want to consider hiring a records management company. They’ll store your important documents, saving you space while leaving you with the peace of mind that you can easily access them when needed.

Key Steps to Creating a Records Retention Schedule

Creating a records retention schedule has multiple layers that will touch each area of your business. Whether it’s accounting records, payroll, or purchasing, a schedule needs to be devised for each area.

Compliance

Part of running a business includes being aware of compliance regulations that affect your industry. Rules for record retention can vary between healthcare, banking, card processing, and human resources-related businesses.

You’ll want to review records retention rules in advance of creating a schedule.

Develop a Team

Your business may have multiple departments. Create a team with a representative from each area. This way you are not creating a one size fits all solution. Your records retention schedule needs to be specific to each department. In addition, you want each department in compliance with the schedule.

Review of Records

In cases where you’re implementing a policy for the first time, creating an inventory of existing documents is important. Understand what you have on hand and where it’s stored.

While doing your inventory, prepare non-essential records for your first document destruction appointment.

Creating a Policy

With your team in place and all compliance regulations understood, create a records retention policy. This is a document outlining rules for retention and paper shredding. The policy is distributed to all personnel along with the newly created records retention schedule.

We Can Keep Your Records Safe

Having a records retention schedule helps your business in many ways. Most importantly, you are in compliance with industry standards. If you need help creating and implementing your Records Retention Policy, contact us. Our team of specialists can help your company develop a schedule and destroy data when needed.

Why Every Business Needs a Records Retention Policy

In only the first half of 2018, data breaches comprised 4.5 billion records. 56% were stolen from outsiders. 9% was due to accidental loss.

While most of us don’t think about the documents, both paper and electronic, we create, if you’re a business owner, not having a records retention policy could cause you a lot of problems.

Creating a corporate document policy has a lot of benefits. You shouldn’t be saving everything nor should you fail to retain certain records.

If you’re wondering why you need to implement document retention policy best practices in your office, keep reading. We’re sharing with you a few reasons to adopt an information retention policy today.

A Records Retention Policy is Required in Certain Industries

Certain industries are bound by laws to comply with state and federal privacy laws regarding how long certain documents should be kept. Destroying records before that time can result in hefty penalties.

Also, in certain industries, you may need to retain certain records in order to defend your business against other claims. Make sure your business is complying with current and new regulations regarding document retention.

Saves Money and Time

It costs money to maintain records you no longer need. It also costs money if your business is named in a lawsuit and you no longer have access to the records you need to prove your case.

Having too much clutter also costs your business valuable time and energy when employees can’t locate vital documents. Clutter decreases productivity and increases depression and anxiety.

It also costs money to store old files you no longer legally need whether you keep it in your office, filing cabinets, cloud storage or hard drives.

Keeps Your Records Secure

It’s not always readily apparent if your records have been hacked or stolen. And unfortunately, 70% of attacks are on small businesses. 60% of those hacked businesses went under after six months.

Creating a documentation policy should always include taking measures to ensure your records remain safe. And there should be a policy that includes safety measures for both hard copies and digital.

Make sure security is your number one priority and include it as a part of employee training. It should also become a standard part of your workplace’s process. It’s easier to prevent theft when everyone at your company is on the lookout.

Improving Efficiency

Creating a policy on where and how long to save documents helps you develop an organizational system for storing, retrieving, and record-keeping. Doing so makes it easier for everyone to locate and retrieve the information they need more quickly.

Documents are less likely to go missing. Implementing such a policy also ensures that expired documents are instantly flagged.

Part of the document retention policy should include how documents are destroyed. You can’t throw confidential information in the trash. Instead, find ways to securely destroy old documents to thwart would-be thieves.

How to Safely Destroy Documents

The best and safest way to destroy hard copies of documents is to shred them. However, your basic office shredder won’t be able to handle such a large job. Nor do you want to have to appoint an employee to handle all the shredding of confidential documents. And you also don’t want to leave one employee in charge of securely destroying all your digital information.

Instead, appoint an employee to contact a professional records management company. They can safely, quickly, and securely destroy all your old documents — paper and electronic.

Contact Us to Keep Your Records Safe

We can help you implement a working records retention policy and we’re here when you need us to destroy digital and hard copies safely.

Click here to contact us to find out how we can help.

A Guide on how to Manage Hospital’s Paper Documents

Keeping up with hospital documents can be a big deal. First of all, you have a ton of different files from many different patients. Add in the fact that each and every one of those files is confidential and it’s not hard to see how problematic it can be.

It can seem like a difficult challenge to keep up with all of the papers in the hospital, but what exactly can you do to make it easier? It’s not like the papers are just going to stop flowing in or make themselves easier to manage.

Luckily, there are ways for hospitals to manage paper documents that you can incorporate into your office routine. Keep reading this article to find out what you can do to make it happen.

How Hospitals Manage Their Paper Documents

There are more ways to handle your healthcare documents than you think. Here are just a few things that you can do to make your life easier.

Incorporate a Document Management System

One of the best things that you can do for your office is to incorporate a document management system to help you keep track of your files. Doing so will make it easier to organize and file all of the hospital information.

It can be difficult to keep track of things manually, and searching and placing files take time out of your workday. That can all change when you have a management system do it for you.

With the management system, you will have an automatic means to track your files and make sure they are sorted out, so you know that the job is done right the first time.

Set a Timer

Setting a timer is another good thing that you can do. One of the easiest ways to lose track of your records is to not have a set time when you dispose of them. This can lead to you losing track of the archived data in your system.

Doing something as simple as setting a turnaround time for when you discard your old data can remove the hassle of having documents that are months or even years old cluttering up your space.

Train New Hires

You don’t have time to deal with all of the filing yourself. That’s why you should get new hires to do it for you.

With people working on a dedicated task, you can be sure they will document the files properly and make sure that everything is in order. The best part is that the job can be done with little effect on your budget.

We Can Help

Taking care of your files can be a hassle, no matter how verse you might be. That’s why we would love to help you out with handling your documents.

We help the government, private businesses, and hospitals manage paper documents through the use of shredders, hard drive disposal, and teaching safe disposal practices so we can help you to take care of the files you need destroyed.

Ready to get started? Give us a call. We look forward to helping you soon.

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.