How Long Should You Keep Business Records?

how long to keep business records

Business Record Retention

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

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

Here are some basic guidelines:

Business Income Tax Returns and Supporting Documentation

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

Employment Tax Records

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

Business Asset Records

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

Business Ledgers and Other Key Documents

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

Human Resources Files

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

Other Business Records

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

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

Business Document Storage and Management in Fort Wayne

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

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

New Year’s Resolutions for the Workplace

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of Year Document Purge

end of year file purge

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

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

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

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

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

How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

how to protect yourself from identity theft

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

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

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

Guard online information

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

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

Monitor your financial statements and accounts

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

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

Daily Life

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

Shred sensitive documents

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

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

Residential Document Destruction

residential document shredding fort wayne

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

Benefits of Document Shredding

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

Residential Shredding in Fort Wayne

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

Seal N’ Shred Bags

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

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

Shred Days

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

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

What to Shred

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

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

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

 

What Is Records Management? Why Is It Important?

what is records management

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

What is Records Management

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

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

 

Why is Records Management Important?

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

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

Records Management in Fort Wayne

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

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

We offer:

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

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

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

Can Using a Records Management Company Reduce My Liability?

benefits of records management

Importance of Records Management in an Organization

Any business dealing with personal, medical or financial information must understand the potentially devastating consequences that can result from allowing unapproved access to sensitive and confidential information. The list of specific regulations that address information security compliance is lengthy — to mention a few:

  • HIPAA or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act,
  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
  • Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA)
  • and many more

Unfortunately, the regulations are not written in a way that is easily understood. Security professionals from a certified records management company such as Federal Records Mangement & Shredding in Fort Wayne can explain:

  • which laws apply to your business
  • what the laws mean for your business’s liability
  • and how best to implement compliance with regulations

Every major data protection regulation includes a requirement that organizations have written data protection policies and procedures. Proof of working with a certified records management and destruction company is a key element in proving compliance and reducing your liability should any information-related legal issues arise. Proof that your employees have been trained in information management by professionals from a certified records management company also is crucial for reducing your liability.

Benefits of Records Management

Federal Records Management & Shredding can help protect you, your documents and your business. There are many benefits of records management. Not only can we help you understand the regulations and train your employees in appropriate compliance procedures, we can also:

  • organize and retrieve information when needed
  • protect important and confidential records
  • minimize storage requirements
  • reduce operating costs
  • improve office efficiency
  • ensure regulatory compliance
  • minimize the risk of litigation and/or penalties
  • maintain retention and destruction schedules

Document security, including storage, destruction, and regulations compliance is our specialty. Contact Federal Records Mangement & Shredding today to ensure you understand the legal ramifications of non-compliance and to establish appropriate policies to protect your business now and avoid compliance issues in the future.

Benefits of Having a Clean Desk Policy

benefits of a clean desk policy

A “Clean Desk Policy”: It’s About Security

Many businesses, especially those dealing with sensitive, confidential, or financial information, are implementing clean desk policies. A Clean Desk Policy requires all employees to clear their desks at the end of each work day.

What Is a Clean Desk Policy?

Yes, a clean desk policy makes the office look neat and tidy, but there’s a much more important reason for enforcing it: it’s a crucial step in protecting your organization from fraud, security breaches, and information theft. It’s a simple and effective way to make sure sensitive information is not left unattended and accessible to prying eyes. A Clean Desk Policy protects your organization and helps your employees stay compliant with privacy and security regulations.

Benefits of a Clean Desk Policy

The benefits of a Clean Desk Policy are numerous:

  • to protect your company and your clients
  • employees become more aware of the risks of information theft
  • office space is better organized and conducive to productivity
  • to provide peace of mind for your customers
  • to protect your company’s reputation

Implementation has a few basic steps:

  • whenever an employee leaves his desk, all sensitive information (even post-its with passwords) should be removed from the desktop
  • computers should be set with a password-protected screen saver
  • at the end of the day, all information (notes, documents, thumb drives, etc.) should be removed from the desktop and computers should be completely shut down
  • when not in use, sensitive documents should be kept in locked cabinets
    when no longer needed, sensitive information should be shredded or placed in locked bins for secure shredding
  • upper management should follow the same guidelines as the rest of the staff
  • the policy should be in writing and should be clearly communicated to employees
  • random office checks should be conducted to check for compliance
  • reward Clean Desk employees and establish a plan for employees who repeatedly do not comply

A Clean Desk Policy is a straightforward strategy for reducing the risk of security breaches and information theft. Protecting your company doesn’t end there, however. Secure document shredding with a licensed shredding company continues to protect your company until all sensitive information has been completely destroyed. Federal Records Management and Shredding in Fort Wayne helps your business manage its information and stay compliant with their wide-range of information services, including offsite records storage, and secure document and hard drive destruction.

Contact us today at (260) 267-9652to learn how we can help you protect your clients, your business, and your reputation.

Information Destruction Training Program

employee compliance training

Training for You and Your Staff

You know that Federal Records Management and Shredding can take care of all of your document shredding (or records storage) needs. We are a AAA Certified member of the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID). This means that by hiring us, you are taking crucial steps in protecting your business from non-compliance with HIPAA and other confidentiality regulations.

But, did you also know that Federal Records Management and Shredding is certified to train your staff on the requirements and procedures for proper information destruction? This service provides extra protection to your business (and your staff and clients). Should your information protection policies ever be questioned by a regulatory agency, you can prove that your staff has been properly trained by our certified facility.

“Every data protection regulation in the US requires that organizations properly train employees on proper information protection, including proper information destruction,” says NAID. “Just as important, regulators say that organizations who do train their employees on proper information protection will be held less responsible than if the training is not provided in the first place. So not only does the training increase employee compliance, it also reduces the fine.”

The training program offered by Federal Records Management and Shredding to its clients is easy!

  1. Employees watch a short video that shows why proper document destruction is crucial to the organization and their continued employment.
  2. Employees are given written instructions of your company’s destruction procedures.
  3. Employees sign an affidavit that they have received the training, understand their responsibility, and agree that ongoing compliance is a condition of their employment.

These simple steps protect you, your business, your employees, and your clients or patients! Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your company stay in compliance!

Earth Day Reminder: Shredding is Eco-Friendly (and Secure!)

paper shredding is eco-friendly

How Paper Shredding Saves the Environment

Shredding documents with a professional document destruction company guarantees that any confidential or other high-risk information they contain is securely destroyed. This helps you meet privacy regulations and protects your business, your employees, and your clients, customers or patients.

But did you also know it’s Earth-friendly?

All that paper doesn’t just end up in a landfill! It’s recycled and made into other paper products. After the documents go through our industrial shredder, all that shredded paper is compacted into bales (each weighing about 1300 pounds!). Even though the shredding has made all of the information they contain completely illegible, those bales remain in our completely secure facility until they are delivered to our paper recycling facility.

We use the Fox River Fiber paper recycling facility which has been certified for security by the National Association for Information Destruction. The shredded paper is turned into pulp and then repurposed into anything from printing paper to packaging. Fox River Fiber uses “state-of-the-art equipment, energy saving strategies, new technology, and has certifications with various green-focused organizations.”

Go Green with Federal Records Management & Shredding in Fort Wayne

Federal Records Management and Shredding in Fort Wayne is proud of the value we provide our clients by protecting their sensitive and confidential documents until the information can be completely destroyed. We also pride ourselves on the role we play in helping our environment by keeping all of that paper out of the waste stream and effectively getting it recycled and repurposed.

Earth Day is April 22nd. Celebrate by giving us a call to learn about our document management and shredding services. Protect your business, clients, and employees — and help the Earth — by trusting locally-owned Federal Records Management and Shredding with your confidential document destruction.