Skip links

Best Practices for Proper Document Destruction

Do you need help with protecting and destroying data responsibly with proper document destruction? Much of today’s focus is on digital security for personal privacy, but the security of physical documentation is just as important.

Many industries, such as legal, financial, research, and medical facilities, must retain paper copies of sensitive records for an extended period. In these instances, documents containing private information are kept securely.

However, things can go wrong when those documents need to be destroyed. Records can either be insufficiently destroyed or mishandled, which can cause private information to leak into the wrong hands. The results of such a scenario can be devastating for the individual whose personal information becomes public and the company that is ultimately liable for the error.

Why Is it Important to Destroy Documentation?

Proper document destruction is a matter of law. These measures are in place to protect clients’ and consumers’ private information. Ultimately, the importance of document destruction boils down to three key priorities:

Protect sensitive information

Comply with regulations

Comply with your company records and data policies

What Are the Regulations for Document Destruction?

Three Acts govern the willing or accidental sharing of sensitive information: The Social Security Act of 1934The Privacy Act of 1974, and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA) (FACTA).

The Social Security Act of 1934 was the first to regulate document destruction. The Privacy Act of 1974 was a more fulsome congressional ruling that indicated a right to privacy, the requirement to monitor the responsible use of information, and the ramifications of data misuse.

FACTA came about after California v. Greenwood to protect against identity theft. FACTA sets forth the basic requirements that holders of sensitive information must follow, including maintaining the privacy and responsible disposal of consumer information.

Best Practices for Proper Document Destruction

Knowing your liabilities when protecting client and consumer information is just the start. The key to ensuring that your business stays within requirements is that it has practices in place to safeguard information.

Below are some priority steps that should be in the strategic game plan of every organization.

Have a Policy in Place

The first step is to have a policy laying out when and how documents will be destroyed or retained. This policy should outline the amount of time physical copies should be kept for compliance purposes and how to know when those documents are ready for disposal.

Keep a Document Destruction Schedule

Once a policy is in place, it is important to have both a retention and destruction schedule. The schedule must be maintained for every sensitive document, which can become quite complex.

There are multiple record-keeping systems that companies may opt to use. There are also ways of maintaining your policy using spreadsheets. Whichever method your company opts for, it must be followed doggedly, or risk penalty.

It is also a great plan to have a monitoring system to ensure documents are retained or destroyed following compliance. Document destruction should occur in an ongoing cycle as new records become ready for disposal.

Digitize Records

There are cases where some industries must keep paper records for certain documentation. In these cases, having a document destruction protocol is especially important. But when it comes to documentation that does not have to be kept in physical form, consider digitizing the documentation for safekeeping before shredding the paper copies.

Avoid Using the Office Shredder for Sensitive Data

Using the office paper shredder to destroy important documents may not be sufficient. Consider using a third-party document destruction organization that meets the regulated standards.

At the same time, why not support a social enterprise like Amplify to safely and securely dispose of your documentation? Amplify provides meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities to maximize their quality of life, earning potential, and social skills while ensuring your business’s compliance needs are met.

Reach out to Amplify today to learn more about our document destruction standards and protocols – we promise you won’t be disappointed.

Leave a comment