What to Store and What to Shred: Why You Need a Document Retention Policy

office shredding

There are several components to information security, but a detailed document retention policy is a critical aspect that every Los Angeles business should have. Knowing which confidential documents to store and which ones to shred should be a concern at the forefront of every organization, especially during tax time when information theft is at its highest.

In fact, the IRS sent out an alert that personal data scams throughout the U.S. increased by 400% during the first four months of 2016. How does it happen? Often criminals will make fake tax returns and send scam workplace e-mails posing as executives to obtain tax-related information they can use for their gain.

To assist in keeping your confidential information secure, keep in mind the below guidelines as a general rule:

  • Information Audits: Audits are a great way to identify the types of documents your business produces, and allow you to have an inventory on hand as to exactly what you have stored, so you can manage and change it accordingly.
  • Tax Records and Storage: When it comes to data retention there are two parts to keep in mind: the duration documents will be of purpose to the company, and the period documents should be stored because of industry and government requirements. For instance, in the U.S. legally, payroll tax returns are to be kept for 4 years. Every organization regardless of its size and profession must research which laws apply to their business.
  • Regulatory Fines: While the law dictates that you should be storing some documents, you can also be penalized for keeping records for too long as well, which could lead to potential legal consequences and fines. As with the majority of privacy laws, The Data Protection Act compliance states that a record must be securely shredded once the retention period has passed.
  • Emails: Sensitive records refer to paper documents, electronic files, and online correspondence like emails. As mentioned on, the Panama Papers leak exposed over 4.8 million emails (as well as 3 million database files and 2.1 million PDFs). If emails aren’t part of a critical business or legal matter, and they aren’t being used for anything, ensure they are deleted within an appropriate period.
  • Easy Retrieval: Index all documents for quick and easy retrieval.  Be sure to store all documents or electronic files in a locked area or a password protected program. Access should be controlled appropriately so that only staff members that require details to perform their job properly have access. Storing information that’s no longer needed or relevant, only leads to an increase in security risks such as data breaches; not only that, it will use up considerable space and cost you money in the long run.
  • Secure Destruction: The only secure and proper way to dispose of paper or digital documents when they are no longer needed is through professional destruction services. Shredding is a legal obligation for many documents, and working with industry experts helps to eliminate risk. Partner with a reputable shredding company like SAFESHRED that practices industry-leading shredding processes, including a secure chain of custody throughout the entire destruction. We provide our clients with a Certificate of Destruction following each shred job, which documents compliance for record keeping.

Contact the team at SAFESHRED in Los Angeles for additional information on our shredding services. We are happy to explain any details further. Call 1-800-987-4733.

Don’t Just Shred. SAFESHRED!