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.

The 12 Things that Federal Record Offers You

Looking to get your business more organized in the new year?

Did you know poor record keeping and bad accounting are two issues that cause a small business to lose money?

To help you get your business in order in 2018, here are 12 things that federal records can do to help make your business run more efficiently!

1. Federal Records Offers Peace of Mind

Knowing that important records are in safekeeping and within reach is a huge weight off the shoulders of many business owners.

You won’t have to worry about natural disasters (fires or floods), theft, or misplaced documents with a record management and offsite shredding services.

2. Compliance

Certain federal and state laws require secure management, accessibility, and destruction of company data pertaining to employee and customer privacy, for example, HIPPA compliance laws.

3. Confidentiality

Utilizing a records management service offers a level of professional confidentiality and trust that sometimes can’t be found in administrative staff, which will help you avoid a confidentiality breach.

4. Offsite Shredding

Offsite document shredding is a cost-effective way to destroy documents containing sensitive information. You’ll also save precious money and time on shredding equipment and added labor costs.

5. Serious Organization

Federal records help you gain control of your records through proper labeling and indexing.

6. Optimized Space

By storing your records offsite or in the cloud, you’ll be able to throw out messy filing cabinets and free up extra space at the office.

7. Cut Down on Costs

Speaking of office resources, you’ll be able to cut down on the time that employees spend handling documents and records, allowing them to do the jobs that they’re meant to do!

8. Efficient Record Retrieval

With federal records, accessing and retrieving the information you need is quick and easy. No more time spent digging through folders and piles of paper!

9. Increased Security

An offsite record storage facility will offer increased security such as alarm systems, fire alarms, locked cabinets, and security personnel.

10. Accurate Financial Statements

Having documents properly labeled, organized, and stored will allow a business to keep more accurate financial statements, which is crucial to tracking progress and monitoring your bottom line.

11. Storage of Important Tax Forms

Holding onto employment records and tax documents, such as W2, W4, and 1099 forms, for at least 4 years is crucial in case of an audit. Secure storage of this sensitive information can be handled by an offsite facility.

12. Expense Documentation for Tax Benefits

Speaking of taxes, records management services can help your business keep track of receipts for purchases, expense reports, and outgoing invoices.

It’s important to keep track of this kind of documentation each year when it comes time to file a tax return.

Having accurate records can save a business a lot of money in the form of tax deductions!

Get Your Business Up To Speed!

Just like the classic Christmas tune “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” Federal Records Management offers 12 immense benefits for your business.

Now is a better time than ever to get your business records organized.

If you need help getting started, let us know!

5 Ways Your Business Can Avoid a Confidentiality Breach

It seems as if every morning we wake up to news of a new confidentiality breach. And every company lives in fear that one day, it will be them.

Every business has sensitive data, but some industries are particularly high-stakes. Healthcare companies, for instance, need to know how to be HIPAA-compliant. If they don’t, they face legal penalties along with a PR nightmare.

While it seems terrifying (especially if you don’t understand data security), there’s hope.

There are many steps a business can take toward making their information more secure. If you’re getting started, these tips below are a perfect first step.

Tip #1: Prohibit the Use of Personal Emails

To an employee, it may seem harmless to send a client an email from their personal email address. But this can open quite the can of worms.

First, when an employee uses their personal email, they have that information forever. If they leave your business, you can remove their access to their company email.

But you can’t do the same for their personal email address. You can’t even know what information the employee may have in their emails.

Second, you cannot control the encryption their emails are using. Strong encryption is crucial for keeping data safe, but most personal emails are less than airtight.

Tip #2: Use the Cloud, but Use it Wisely

“The cloud” isn’t a dirty word when it comes to business record security. In fact, it makes it easy to keep ex-employees out by changing the log-in information. Make sure you’re using precautions, though.

Before you choose a cloud provider, research the security the company offers. If possible, talk to other business about their cloud providers and why they chose them.

Tip #3: Use Caution When Allowing the Use of Personal Devices

Many businesses offer employees the convenience of using their own devices like laptops. But what happens when an employee leaves? This can be a major vulnerability in your confidentiality breach prevention.

If you do choose this route, consider installing wiping software on the devices. If/when the employee leaves, you can target and remove information about the business. You can even do this remotely

Tip #4: Have a Security Checklist in Place for Employee Exits

A 2014 study found 89% of knowledge workers had access to an ex-employee’s sensitive information.

With all a modern office’s technology, it’s easy to forget an ex-employee’s access to one or two sources. To prevent this, take the time to create a comprehensive checklist. Make sure to follow the list to a tee every time an employee leaves.

Tip #5: Bring in the Confidentiality Breach Prevention Professionals

If you’re dealing with more information than your company can handle, call the experts.

If you’re concerned about your digital data, a cybersecurity consultant can help. If it’s physical documents, a records management company can keep them secure.

Whichever type of professional you need, be sure to research their own security.

Take Nothing for Granted

Business can’t keep up with all the ways their data can be compromised with today’s technology. But the bottom line is to never assume something is unbreachable.

Do a security audit to find out what holes you may need to fix and how you can improve. If you have questions about data security methods, like document shredding, record storage, or hard drive destruction, call Federal Records Management & Shredding. We’ll be happy to give you some peace of mind.

Improve Your Business’ Confidentiality With Offsite Shredding

Think business confidentiality is only for top-secret projects? Does it surprise you to know that every business has confidential documentation?

Employee and customer records, contracts, and financial statements. Every company has these documents and more. Some are confidential, and they all take up space.

What do you do when storing paper records uses up valuable space and money? How do you dispose confidential records? Developing an in-house document retention and destruction department is expensive.

Learn how offsite shredding is the best solution for businesses of all sizes, in any industry.

Focus

Document destruction isn’t as simple as having shredders. Retrieval and transfer are also important. And what happens after the paper is shredded is as important as the shredding itself.

Professionals who manage offsite shredding stay focused. They pay close attention to regulations, secure transportation, and reliable disposal.

Accountability

Records management companies will be out of business in the blink of an eye if they aren’t reliable.

Look for companies with full and current NAID AAA Certification. This National Association of Information Destruction designation helps verify a service provider’s qualifications. Certification involves testing related to transfers, offsite storage, and more.

Service providers with NAID Certification are subject to routine and surprise audits.

Objectivity of Offsite Shredding

The teams that handle offsite shredding have no interest in the content of the documents. They’re interested in the safety and security of shredding. Their job is to retrieve, destroy, and dispose records you no longer need.

When in-house staff are tasked with shredding, five things often happen:

  • They spend time reading the documentation. It’s most often driven by curiosity, not malice. Still, time is money.
  • Personal opinion can override requirements. As a result, some documents are not destroyed. This can leave the company open to risk.
  • Shredding happens when time permits, not when required.
  • Shredded document tracking is inconsistent or doesn’t happen at all.
  • Disposal of the shredded paper is casual. That’s another opening for risk.

Best Practices

Offsite shredding can give you confidence.

Professional records management companies rely on best practices to remain effective and efficient. They use best practices to manage your expired and/or confidential documents from retrieval through to disposal. Outstanding service providers build on those best practices to remain market leaders.

For example, the most progressive and security-minded companies use GPS on all retrieval vehicles. Accurate tracking and greater security during document transfer is possible with GPS.

A progressive document management company can also include recycling in the disposal process. All without compromising security.

Go with the Professional Choice

Knowing which documents to destroy and when is your responsibility. Seeking legal guidance specific to your industry is always recommended.

But once you have documents ready for storage, destruction, or both, you need a professional to do the job.

We are a full-service records management company in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We’re the only one that is locally owned & operated. We’re NAID AAA Certified and have a long list of satisfied customers.

Our dedicated team is ready to help you save time and money. We’ll keep your business free of unnecessary paper and protect confidential records.

Contact us today for a free estimate.

Offsite Record Storage: Saving Space, Time, and Money

Did an employee throw sensitive documents into the public dumpster last week?

Is there a 4-foot pile of paper next to the office shredder waiting for someone, anyone, to destroy old records?

Do you dread trips to your overloaded file room because you know it will take over an hour to find the documents you need?

If you answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, it’s time to switch your DIY record keeping to a professional off-site record storage company.

Not sure what this means? Read on to find out!

What is Offsite Record Storage and Why Do You Need It?

Privacy and security are essential in every business. Your clients want and expect their information to remain private.

Are you sure your business records are protected? Think about fires, floods, theft, security, medical regulations, legal and financial rules, and privacy.

You have a legal obligation to protect the privacy of customers and employees. Offsite record storage preserves and safeguards your documents.

When you move valuable paperwork and data to a secure offsite location, you protect your business, plus save space, time, and money.

Create More Office Space

Your business is growing, and so is that disorganized file room. You have more clients, more employees, and more sensitive records to manage and maintain.

Instead of clogging valuable square footage with records you’re required to keep, but seldom use, you could store them offsite.

Professional record storage facilities safeguard any type of media, document or file. It’s a smart solution for

  • Legal offices
  • Medical facilities
  • Financial institutions
  • Brokers
  • Any confidential records

Regulations determine how long businesses, hospitals, doctors, lawyers, and banks, must keep records. Once the required time passes, you can declutter by securely destroying outdated records.

Choose an offsite records company that’s AAA certified in records destruction, including hard drive destruction. Then you can permanently eliminate any sensitive personal or business information stored in files or on hard drives at the end of its life cycle.

Save Employee Time

Once you remove extra documents from your file room, you’ll have easy access to files you need daily. Your employees will save time because record retrieval and reference will be more efficient.

If you choose to store records offsite, they’re readily available, too. You can arrange secure pickup or delivery of your documents whenever you need them.

Another way you save time is by knowing where your files are at all times. Every storage box uses our barcode tracking and index system for fast retrieval.

You can save time with a one-time purge to reorganize your space, or with regularly scheduled services (onsite or offsite). Both options save you hours and lots of effort.

Reduce Risks to Save Money

Climate-controlled secure storage facilities keep your records safe from damage and theft. Lost records are expensive to restore or replace.

Additionally, certified record storage companies can advise you on the legal regulations for record keeping, which can save you money on compliance issues.

Secure document transport, shredding, and storage means you don’t have to worry about security breaches or the cost of resolving them.

An offsite record storage facility saves you money because it protects your data, frees up valuable office space, and reduces the time your employees spend on record retrieval and review.

Whether you do an annual purge, a special project, or routine document management, contact Federal Records Management to save you space, time and money.

Making More Space In The Office? 5 Tips On Document Shredding & What To Shred

document shredding

Are you at the point where you need a gymnastics coach to make it from one end of your office to the other? Maybe you just don’t know when you should be shredding all of those documents that have been sitting around forever?

Unfortunately, this situation has landed you in a pickle. You’ve got limited office space and a growing pile of old, dust gathering paperwork.

When it comes to document shredding, how do you decide what to keep and what to get rid of?

5 Tips on Document Shredding

Federal and State laws dictate how long you must keep certain documents. To better protect yourself and stay compliant with the law, stick to these guidelines of practicing the right way to managing your records.

1. Employee

If you didn’t hire the someone, keeping their pre-employment information on file for one year is standard practice.

Having a personnel file for standard employee information is a good idea and this file should be kept separate from any legal or HR related files on said worker.

Once an employee has quit or been terminated, keep the files for at least three years. This length of time can vary according to state law, so make sure you check with the proper agency.

2. Benefits

All benefit plan records must be kept and maintained for at least six years. This number varies according to law. Keep general benefits information separate from any claims or medical record you may need to keep on file.

3. Banking

It’s a good plan to keep this information indefinitely. Contract, tax, and profit/loss information can be great reference tools for the future. Anything that a shareholder, accountant, or IRS auditor may need to look at it should have a permanent, secure home in your facility.

In some cases, you are required to keep anything that is confidential or sensitive.

Bank account and credit card statements should be kept for 7 years.

4. Junk

Any junk mail can usually be shredded immediately including notes made on post-its and scrap pieces of paper. Throwing them away dramatically increases the potential for a breach. Especially if we’re talking about passwords or safe combinations.

5. Clerical

Anything like purchase orders and receiving sheets should be kept on file for a year. This may seem like way longer than necessary, but you never know when the day comes where you’ll have to back track through six month’s worth of purchasing orders to find a $5,000 mistake.

The Takeaway

You owe it to your clients and employees to keep their information safe and secure. Failure to do so has some steep, legal consequences. To keep your business up and running and maintaining a secure environment for your sensitive documents, know when to shred and when to keep forever.

Check with state offices to see how your individual state handles document shredding, as it often differs from federal guidelines.

5 Things You Need to Know About Hard Drive Destruction

Hard Drive Destruction Fort Wayne

Go paperless. It’s not just an environmentally conscience trend anymore. We’re now neck-deep in the digital age. By now, your company is very good at handling your client’s personal, financial, medical, or other sensitive information. You are HIPPA compliant. You follow rules for confidentiality by using a certified document destruction company.

But how are you dealing with hard drive destruction?

Perhaps your company is moving locations or closing up shop. Maybe it’s time to upgrade those computers. It is the responsibility of your company to protect the information on the hard drives. You must get rid of it in an effective, safe manner.

If sensitive information is not completely wiped out your company is liable. This can lead to lawsuits, hefty fines, and a marred reputation.

Before you hand the job off to your CPA’s son’s friend, make sure you know the facts about digital data destruction.

The Myth About Magnets

Have you seen the IT nerd on a cyber-crime television show cringe at the sight of magnets near a computer? He mumbles under his breath about the sophistication of bad guys. Well, don’t run to your local magnet store yet.

First, you’ll have to remove the metal coating from the platter. The platter is the circular piece inside a hard drive that resembles a CD.

After removing platinum plating you’ll need a super powerful magnet. So, unless you have a degausser sitting around (a high-intensity magnet used to scramble 1s and 0s), this method is not time efficient. (It’s not even realistic.)

The Formatting Fairytale

You may have heard that simply formatting your hard drive does the trick. Unfortunately, that is not true. Formatting does not completely erase the information from a hard drive.

According to Lifewire, a tech-made-easy website, formatting a hard drive does not remove data completely. Formatting makes files and information invisible, but not altogether gone. It will not be difficult for a beginning hacker to retrieve that information.

The Software-Wipe Whopper

No matter how thorough a data-wiping program is you cannot be 100% sure it wiped everything clean. Good hackers and forensic labs will find “ghosts” of the overwritten data.

A study released by National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) in 2017 was disturbing. It found that 40% of devices resold contained personally identifiable information (PII). The PII included user name and passwords, tax details, and credit card information.

The reason for concern: the devices had received some type of data erasure.

The DIY Dilemma

Many companies attempt to delete or destroy data themselves. By using the techniques above they believe they can save money. In the long run, this may actually be more expensive.

IBM sponsored a data breach study conducted by the Ponemon Institute in 2017. The study estimated the monetary average per stolen record. It reported that the average cost to a company for each lost or stolen record is $141.

Can your company afford that?

Don’t leave things to chance. There is one certain method to make sure a hard drive’s data is unrecoverable. It is through complete hard drive destruction.

A Happy Ending for Hard Drive Destruction

Does your company currently need to get rid of your computer hard drives?

The best way to protect your customer’s personal information is to make sure the data is gone forever. The method used must be compliant with privacy regulations. This is important for protecting your company from data theft.

Fort Wayne’s Federal Records Management and Shredding has a guaranteed hard drive destruction process that can destroy every type and size of hard drive rendering it useless.

Our experienced and certified staff will destroy your hard drives at our local AAA-certified information destruction facility.

Contact us today to learn more about our services. Protect your business. Protect your customers. Protect your peace of mind.

How Long Should You Keep Employee Records?

employee records

Anyone who works in HR knows: employee records add up. Between your records for past employees, current employees, and possible hires, it’s almost impossible to keep track of all the paperwork you have to deal with.

Is there a way to cut down on all of this?

You can keep your paperwork collection from getting too large by getting rid of old files. But there’s a certain amount of time you need to keep them before throwing them away.

Here’s how long to keep employee records.

How Long to Keep These Records

Figuring out how long you need to keep your employee records is not an exact science. But here are some good rules of thumb to get you started:

  • Hiring records: 1 year
  • Drug test records: 1 year (5 for transportation jobs)
  • Payroll: 3 years (5 years after termination)
  • Form I-9: 3 years after hire, 1 after termination
  • Benefits Information: 6 years
  • FMLA records: 3 years
  • Employment records: 3 years after termination

These rules are not flawless, but you should be keeping these files at least for this long.

Why are we being so cautious? Well, that’s because how the laws work depend on where you live …

A Word of Warning

Sometimes, state laws and federal laws differ. For example, here in Indiana, Payroll records need to be kept for 10 years, not 3. This is just one example of how things can be different.

When you notice any of these discrepancies, you should follow the longer rule. In our example, that means that you should be following the state law. But the state law is not absolute. If the federal law is longer, then you should follow that one instead.

It can be difficult to figure out when and how to keep employee records. And if you’re already running a business, or doing a thousand other HR jobs, how are you supposed to keep up on when these records are too old?

If you’re taking care of records on your own, it’s easy to let them pile up as you focus on other things.

What if there was an easier way?

Want to keep employee records safe?

What you need is records management. Professional records management will store all of your records for you, keep them organized and, most importantly, destroy them when the time comes. This keeps them out of your way when you don’t need them, and clean and organized when you do.

But, you may be thinking, this comes with its own set of problems.

What happens if you need the files? A lot of the time, you might be worried about getting them on time. When you need a file, you need it right then, not hours from when you ask for it. That’s why we provide our Fort Wayne clients with delivery within minutes, not hours or days.

If you’re looking for a records management service that is willing to work with you no matter what the time of day, then we’re your people. Get in touch to see how we can help you today!

What Is Records Management? Everything You Need to Know

what is records management

It’s a great feeling when your business is going well and growing. It’s every entrepreneur’s dream. With your growing success, how well are you keeping up the pace?

More business means more hands to do the job. It also means paperwork. More paperwork means you need a better system to stay organized. But, you already knew that. The trouble is, when you search the internet for details on how to manage your records, you’ll hit some confusion along the way. Like document management and record management. What is records management?

This guide gives you a quick rundown of everything you need to know about records management and why you need it ASAP.

What is Records Management?

First, let’s take a closer look at what records management means. Records management is the practice of archiving or keeping documents that are of an important nature.

These documents are made up of:

  • Paper
  • Electronic forms
  • Files
  • Emails
  • Faxes
  • Contracts
  • Leases
  • Vendor communications
  • Etc.

Records management also establishes policies and procedures for maintaining these records.

Why Do We Need Records Management?

The idea behind why we need records management is simple. We use records management is to:

  • Control our records
  • Simplify the way records are stored
  • Ensure the security of our records
  • Easily locate the records when they’re needed
  • Determine how long records need to be retained
  • Cut the amount of data that is no longer needed or obsolete

The next question you’ll need to ask yourself is: Do you want your records management done on-site or off-site?

Records Management Company in Fort Wayne

As you can see, it’s vital to have a proper record management system for your business. You need to keep your documents secure and easily retrievable to keep your business running smoothly.

If you’re looking for off-site records management, look no further! Let Federal Records Management and Shredding in Fort Wayne be your document keepers!

We are a locally owned, operated, and AAA-certified document management company in the greater Fort Wayne area.  In fact, we’re the only locally-owned and operated document management company in Fort Wayne!

If you need proper disposal of your documents and records, we offer those services, too. We offer on-site and off-site secure document shredding and computer hard drive destruction.

We have a team of experienced professionals who will work with you. They will help develop a plan to efficiently manage your records and information.

So contact us and let us help you manage your important records today!

5 Reasons Your Information Management System Needs a Shredding Service

Do you need a shredding service? Ask yourself these questions: Is time on a budget at work? Do you find that your information management system is being overlooked?

It might be easy to push information management to the back of your mind but as soon as you encounter a confidentiality issue, you will wonder why you did not make it a priority sooner. Even minor details can be used to compromise your company’s security if they end up in the wrong hands. To ensure that your company’s confidentiality is maintained with integrity, you should handle information with care.

Storage and disposal of confidential records and documents should be a priority and ensuring that information is managed properly can save you headaches and anxiety. Taking the time to make sure that your information management system is streamlined to effectively guard confidential information is crucial.

A shredding service can serve as an invaluable resource to maintaining your company’s confidentiality and staying ahead of the curve.

Here are 5 reasons that you will want to use a shredding service:

Why Your Information Management System Needs a Shredding Service:

1. A shredding service guards against theft of confidential information.

There are reportedly 9 million victims of identity theft each year.

If these victims had invested in a shredding service, they would have likely been able to prevent becoming a part of this unfortunate statistic.

Shredding documents that can be used to steal identifying information is an effective way to guard against theft.

Professional thieves can use your information or your company’s information in catastrophic ways, wreaking irreparable damage.

The best way to guard against these invasive criminals is to proactively dispose of any documentation that can be used against you.

2. A shredding service can effectively dispose of large amounts of information.

When you are involved with the ins and outs of running a business, you might not realize just how much information that passes through your company, or how this information could be used against you.

A shredding service can accommodate the large amounts of documentation that companies often encounter.

When left to your own devices, you may not be as responsible in disposing of confidential documents.

3. A shredding service saves you time.

When you are crunched for time, disposing of your private information and protecting your company can be shuffled to the bottom of the barrel.

A shredding service takes care of the work, so you can take care of the things that you need to.

4. A shredding service is an efficient way to create space solutions.

Without a shredding service, many documents and papers will linger around the office far longer than necessary.

You might be surprised how distracting and space-consuming paperwork in the office can be: mail, files, paperwork, documentation…

Shredding can free up large areas of space and eliminate confusion and lack of organization in the office.

You waste time and energy sorting through papers, and revisiting piles of documents and mail that need tossing.

When you employ a shredding service, you are much more inclined to toss those unwanted and unneeded papers immediately, which clears space for the things that really need your attention.

5. Shredding helps to develop a system for documents that you need to keep and documents that should be thrown out.

When you have a shredding service you are more likely to differentiate between those papers that you should keep and those that you should not.

Shredding is one way to stay more organized.

When you rely on a shredding service, then you are more inclined to stay on top of the piles of paper. You realize that this stack is disposable, so you categorize appropriately.

When you have a destination for things, you are more likely to incorporate a system for dealing with them.

Conclusion:

A shredding service can offer businesses a number of valuable benefits. They help you to stay organized, protect yourself, save time and conserve space. If you need help getting your system on-track, let us help!