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By Joe Caradonna, Patty Caradonna, and Jerry Dilk From the February 2023 Issue

For many businesses, document storage and destruction must be done at least on a yearly basis. As the company grows, more and more documents start accumulating, causing office space to disappear. Even as the world of business turns toward more digital storage solutions, papers, files, and other documents still continue to pile up.

Outsourcing document storage ensures documents are kept in a safe environment that is easily accessible. When the time comes to destroy papers, outsourcing to a professional shredding business provides safe and secure destruction. By outsourcing documents, either for storage or shredding to a reputable business, you can be sure the company is following all state and federal regulations.

document storage
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

For many businesses, these regulations include, The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Each of these laws, if broken, include heavy fines and penalties to businesses who fail to document destruction policies as well as proper storage procedures.

Know What Documents To Destroy

Old, unneeded business, personal, and tax documents are available for destruction. Initially tax documents must be on file for at least seven years and digitally scanned for secure storage. After seven years, you can destroy the documents to free up space in your filing system. To avoid legal issues, use an outsourced on-site shredding business for the destruction of papers and other documents. These businesses will travel to your location and destroy the documents at your office. Upon completion, the shredding company will provide a Certificate of Destruction for you to keep on file as proof of compliance.

Shredding documents yourself can be a security risk, since dumping shredded pieces into your business dumpster gives anyone can access them. Just because the papers have been shredded, doesn’t mean the information cannot be found.

Shredding documents yourself can be a security risk, since dumping shredded pieces into your business dumpster gives anyone can access them.

A professional on-site shredding business ensures papers are securely destroyed and immediately sent to a recycling center. On-site shredding is one of the most secure ways to destroy files, because you can witness the process from beginning to end and keep the chain of custody intact.

Storing Documents

If certain documents need to be accessible for long periods, use a professional document storage company. These businesses will take in your paper documents and store them in a fireproof and secure environment. Most facilities will electronically place your files into their computer system by using barcodes on each file, allowing quick and easy access in case a situation arises where a file is needed immediately. For more secure documents, like HIPAA files, identification and chain of command procedures are in place to protect companies from any potential legal issues.

Business records contain years of important and confidential information on your business, clients, services, and products. Building owners and operators rely on this information to make the right decisions keep businesses running smoothly. Managing that information can be difficult, especially for small businesses that don’t have a lot of space to dedicate to these important papers. Outsourcing your record management to an off-site facility is the best way to safeguard against unauthorized access, data breaches, theft, misuse, penalties, and litigation.

Never Use Self-Storage

Your customers and employees trust you to keep their information safe. Many times, business owners will rent a self-storage facility and stack boxes of documents inside. This is the last thing any business owner or manager should do when it comes to securely storing documents. Self-storage facilities are not secure enough to follow state and federal regulations. They are also susceptible to water damage, fire, and theft.

Using an off-site document storage facility ensures your documents are in a safe environment and are still accessible. When the time comes to destroy old documents, always use an on-site shredding company so you can keep the chain of custody intact and ensure your documents are properly destroyed and recycled. Always take extra precaution with your documents, so you don’t accidentally break any laws or allow your files to fall into the wrong hands. It’s best to leave it to the professionals.

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Joe and Patty Caradonna are the owner of PROSHRED Arizona located in Tempe, Arizona. PROSHRED Arizona are experts in document shredding for small and large businesses as well as individual document destruction needs.

Jerry Dilk is the Senior Consultant for Information Governance at Data Storage Centers in Phoenix, Arizona. Data Storage Centers has been servicing Greater Phoenix area businesses since 1989.

Do you have a comment? Share your thoughts below, or send an e-mail to the Editor at jen@groupc.com.

Read the full article "Dealing With Documents" on Facility Executive Magazine.

Facility Executive Magazine