Document Retention and Shredding
You might have thought that retention dates and shredding were two significant but independent aspects of your retention plan, but in reality, they are most effective when they function in tandem.
Dates of Retention
Whether they are in paper or electronic form, your confidential business papers have a set lifespan. Unless they are being used in litigation, the amount of time you can keep those papers is industry specific.
Some documents have an unlimited retention period and must be kept forever, while others have a lifecycle that ranges from a few months to a few decades. Understanding those dates is crucial. The records must be carefully guarded, kept up until the retention date, and then destroyed at the conclusion of their useful lives. You violate data protection rules if you keep a document after its expiration date. Please consult your accountant and your attorney for the proper retention timelines.
The chain of custody for information must be maintained after a document has reached the end of its useful life until it is destroyed. The only method to comply with retention regulations is to completely destroy the records, rendering them unreadable and unrecoverable. Data retention and destruction laws cannot be satisfied by throwing away or recycling documents because doing so exposes the data to theft and misuse along the way to disposal.
In order to ensure that your papers are properly destroyed, and you adhere to privacy laws, it is advised that you outsource your document destruction to a reliable, local company. Make sure the shredding business you select also satisfies the following requirements:
- AAA certification from NAID. A certified business is expected to perform to the highest standard.
- If the shredding business can also handle your record management, this is ideal to ensure the security and to comply with data privacy rules – they can keep, safeguard, and then destroy your records at the end of their useful lives.
- When your documents have been destroyed, the company can give you a Certificate of Destruction. This will complete the chain of custody and provide you with documentation of your adherence to the law.
- They recycle as part of the shredding process. To prevent wasteful landfill disposal, a good shredding business will recycle all of the shredded paper it produces.
- Check the specific laws governing document retention and erasure in your industry – Several national and state laws specify how long your records must be kept before being destroyed. Double check those laws with your chosen shredding and storage provider.
- The 2002-enacted Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) places limitations on how a firm manages its papers.
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) sets forth guidelines for how medical facilities must secure and maintain the privacy of the health records of their patients.
Shredding and document retention are inextricably linked. Compliance will give you peace of mind and keep your company compliant.
Request an estimate on our website or by calling 860-627-5800 to learn more. Our experts will ask you a few questions to better understand your requirements, after which they will tell you exactly what to expect from start to finish, including the cost.