You read it right, we're asking: Do you know where your personal documents are? And no, we aren't talking about the documents you keep in a filing cabinet, in a kitchen drawer, or a home office. We're talking about the personal information you've left with anyone who you have ever given it to... your bank, your doctor, your lawyer, your accountant, etc. Do you know what is done with your documents? Well, in most cases, youshould feel secure leaving your information with a reputable company who uses a professional document shredding service to securely destroy your information. Unfortunatly, as detailed in this news video, sometimes your personal information can be just thrown in the trash by those who have no regard for the safety of their clients or patients information.
| A trash collector found these documentscontaining sensitive personal information in a dumpster, and even found a copy of a socialsecurity card.
So now you ask, well how can I be sure that the people who deal with my sensitive information aren't just throwing it away? Of course you cannot police them, but what you can do is be an educated consumer of the services you are using, and when you know your sensitive information is going to be in the hands of a service provider, all you have to do is ASK! Don't be afraid, your identity and financial information may be at risk. All it takes is a simple question of "will all of my information be securely shredded when you're done with it?". The answer will either be "Why of course, we use company XYZ to shred all of your client/patient information" or it would be "No", or maybe "we plan on starting up services sometime in the near future", or any type of explanation to make it sound not-so-bad that they aren't using a shredding company. Either way, when you ask, you are only doing a service to yourself and the fellow consumer. Maybe your question will prompt that company to call their shredding service provider to have them remove sensitive documents (some of which may be yours!), or, maybe your question will prompt them to START using a document shredding company. The outcome will be positive, no matter what.
As a consumer, you have a right to DEMAND the safety of your information. Thankfully, Massachusetts and most states have laws that affect the types of businesses that handle sensitive information and so you can feel comfortable knowing that those businesses are required by law to keep your information safe. Regardless, it never hurts to ask. You never know whose sensitive information you could be keeping from going into the trash.
So shredding your documents sounds easy, right? Well, part of the process is easy, the part where you find a reputable vendor. There are many shredding companies out there that offer a wide range of services to suit the needs of any size company (and even those who need to have personal shredding done). A reputable vendor can take care of the grunt work for you by performing the hard labor, picking-up your documents and either shredding them or storing them. The not-so-easy part of protecting your sensitive documents is being compliant with data protection laws in ALL facets... having a reputable vendor is just the "tail-end" of compliance.
Before you go looking for a company to shred your information, you need to take a look at the laws that affect you that govern what measures need to be taken in the data protection process. Although reading through each law is important (yes, tedious, but necessary), one important yet ambiguous part of the laws is that they are not specific. In fact, they are not specific for a specific reason. Most laws use terminology such as "reasonable measures" when it comes to what you "must do" in order to protect your clients or patients sensitive information. So what does a "reasonable measure" constitute? Well it depends on a lot. What you must do, though, is to spend time working out what is reasonable cost-wise and effort-wise for your entity and then draft a written policy on the measures that you have decided to implement.
Your written policy should at the very least include the following:
-What your entity considers sensitive information
-What should be done when someone in your entity needs to dispose of sensitive information
-What training will be given to employees to ensure that all sensitive information is disposed of properly
-What vendor you will be using for shredding and document storage
-What your emergency plan is in the event a natural disaster strikes in the area of your office location
-What your plan is in the event of a security breach in your office
Don't know where to start now? Well here's a place, download our Compliance Packet by clicking the button below and get our 11 page packet that includes a summary of Massachusetts Data Protection Laws 93H & 93I, a compliance checklist, and an example of Safeguard's Written Information Security Policy.
Have you made sure your data is safe? If not, there is a chance it will cost you financially. It could ruin your reputation as well.
In a recent news story, MetLife, headquartered in New York City, whose revenues topped $50 million in 2008, felt the effect of laws involving data storage security. Because they failed to use records management as risk management, they were fined $70,000. Apparently, when they moved from one location to the next, they discarded a lot of trash in the dumpsters outside the office. In it were sensitive records containing social security numbers, addresses and financial account information of people who were current and former clients of MetLife. The hard copy files remained in dumpsters outside the building for well over three days. During this time, anyone could have acquired the information and used it for identity theft.
In North Carolina, a news article from 2010 about Prompt Med spoke of a $50,000 fine, from the urgent care unit having thrown into a dumpster sensitive information including financial accounts and identification numbers of over 700 patients. Records management as risk management would have clearly helped here.
The Carolina Center for Development and Rehabilitation was highlighted in this article for having illegally disposed of the financial information of nearly two thousand patients in 2011. The fine for this was $40,000. The senior officers had plenty of warning about records management as risk management from the above previous incidents, but did not learn from it.
More and more information these days must be secured and companies are having to treat records management as risk management. With the advent of identity theft, any written, electronic, or printed records must be protected if they include personal information about a client. And if the records are to be discarded for any reason, they must be destroyed in a proper fashion, so that the information contained within is kept safe. From this was born the idea of records management as risk management.
Risk management rpocedures are extremely important to implement to prevent Identity theft. Identity theft is any person's personal information being used by another to illegally remove money from bank accounts, acquire loans and passports and commit other crimes. Identity theft is now also known as identity fraud.
There are state and federal laws in place across the country to ensure that the destruction of certain files is done so properly, in order to prevent Identity theft. If proper measures are not take, then the company responsible for not following the precautions can be given some fairly big fines.
In Massachusetts, the laws that aid in the prevention of identity theft are called the General Law 93H and 93I, and are applicable to all companies in the state of Massachusetts secure all data that include personal information, such as bank account numbers, credit and debit card numbers, and the like that have the ability to create identity theft opportunities.
In addition, each company must have safeguards, by the employment of valid identification systems, in order to keep non-authorized personnel from gaining access through computers, or in hard copy files. The company must also keep all locations safe from outside the company. On a regular basis, companies shall be audited to ensure they within compliance. According to the 93I, a company must document the policy of their destruction procedures.
The fines for non-compliance of 93H requires for the company to pay five thousand dollars for each record that was not kept safe. For 93I, the fine is one hundred dollars for each record, with a cap of fifty thousand dollars. These ordinances came into law in 2005.
In addition to state laws, The Federal FACTA Disposal Rule maintains any person or business using consumer reports must make sure all the information within those reports remain completely secure when discarded.
In summary,the risks that someone takes for improper document disposal are inexplicable. Primarily, risks cannot be taken anymore because it is the law to practice safe and secure document disposal, but secondly when there are a multitude of risk management strategies available through document shredding and management companies, how can someone not take advantage of a simple way to reduce risk?
Need to start managing your risk? Or change your strategy? We can help... click on any of the buttons below to be on your way to a risk management solution!
So although shredding paper seems like the most dull, boring and annoying fact about working with paper in your office, at the end of the day, paper shredding is actually crucial to the safety and security of your business. Knowing what to shred, when to shred it, and how to get the best cost for your shredding needs will all be explained in detail below, so sit back, take a breather, and remember, you will never have to pull staples out of all those darn packets of papers again after you realize how cost and time effective using a shredding company really is!
First things first, what do you need to shred????? Knowing what you need to shred is the first step to take towards keeping yourself and your company protected from the heavy fines associated with carelessly discarding unshredded sensitive information.
Personal information in need of shredding could contain any of the following (don't forget that junk mail!)-
passwords, bank accounts numbers, bank statements, documents with signatures, phone numbers, addresses, pre-approved credit offers, credit applications, insurance information, expired passports, expired travel information, cancelled checks, loan documents, and any form of identification (old school Id's, expired Id's, Military ID)
Business information in need of shredding-
Documents with signatures, business policy/guidelines, passwords, account statements, bank statements, expense reports, customer lists, address lists, phone lists, account numbers, customer payment information, employee documents (health records, resumes, contracts, benefits information, discharge papers), and any and all legal documents.
Shredding the above listed documents will help to ensure that you, your businesses, your employees and you clients information won't fall into the hands of thieves and scammers and that you will be staying compliant with the data protection laws such as 93H, 93I, and the FACTA law. What are these laws you ask? Well they are pretty straight forward but they carry hefty fines if they aren't followed.
93H and 93I are the two newest Massachusetts data protection laws out there and put in place in March of 2010.
93H is a law requiring all businesses in Massachusetts to take serious measures to prevent identity theft. Any business holding the name of a Massachusetts resident and their social security number, Driver's License number, or financial account number (credit/debit cards) is subject to this new data protection law.
93I requires the shredding or destruction of any paper files or data storage devices containing personal information of employees or customers. In addition to the destruction of the information, businesses are required to have a written policy that details how they go about disposing of the sensitive information.
The fines that can arise from non-compliance with the 93H and 93I laws can be anywhere from $100-$5,000 dollars per record compromised and can reach up to $50,000 per incident of improperly disposing of sensitive information.
The federal FACTA (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003) Disposal Rule intends to prevent identity theft. It calls for the proper disposal of information in consumer reports.
If the above laws aren't reason enough to use a service for secure data shredding, maybe the ability to save time and money by using a service might convince you?
Many studies have been done to show that not only does using a service save the time that employees need to put aside to take the staples or binder clips off of documents and to feed the slow drone, but it also SAVES $$$! The cost of having a company pick up boxes or bins of papers is usually less than half of what it would cost to have your employees use their valuable time for shredding.
For example, office shredders cost anywhere from at the very minimum, $450.00, which doesn't get you much, to thousands of dollars for decent shredders! Then you must add on any fixes that might need to happen in the event that someone puts an unforeseen paper clip through or it gets jammed. Next, the length of time it takes for an employee to shred all the necessary documents could add up to hours a month per employee. This time consuming act may lead to cutting corners and just tossing sensitive documents into the trash which would then leave your business or company liable for any damages that may occur because of the data that you have made available for thieves.
Just take a minute to let all of that sink in and realize how actually inconvenient and costly shredding in-house can be. Why not let someone else deal with the paper clips and binder clips while saving money?
For more information on the above laws, please visit:
for more information on how a shredding service can help you.