DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT let this happen to you! Even though everyone says "oh, it won't happen to me", don't be that person. It can, and will, happen to you. What is 'it' though? 'It' is the heavy imposition of FINES on you for the improper disposal of sensitive information. These fines are imposed by both Massachusetts state laws (93H and 93I which require the proper destruction of information containing social security numbers, driver's license numbers, financial account numbers, and credit or debit card numbers) as well as federal regulations like HIPAA that require the secure destruction of PHI (protected healthcare information)as well as FACTA. If anything is to be taken away from this blog, it should be that the DUMPSTER is NO PLACE for the disposal of any kind of sensitive record. If you even have to question whether or not the information is "sensitive", then it probably is. Too many times companies, large and small, are exposed, and fined heavily, for disposing of sensitive information belonging to their clients, patients, or customers simply into the trash.
For the companies that don't heed warning and do not take the proper steps to ensure the security and proper disposal of sensitive information, they are used to make examples of what NOT to do. This is done by way of news reporters plastering the names of companies, and what they did, all over the headlines. For example, big corporations like RiteAid, Walgreens, and CVS were all EXPOSED for their improper disposal of private prescription information. Hitting closer to home, St. Elizabeth's Medical Center is investigating how patient financial information was found floating around on the streets outside of a building in Charlestown. Thankfully, the hospital is taking the correct measures to ensure that this does not happen again. Also, the hospital did what it is required to do by law when a data breach of this sort happens and they notified the Massachusetts Attorney General's office.
Then, we come across a more interesting situation where SHREDDED PAPER was used as confetti in the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade. So what's the big deal? We'll the shreds were very thick and cut perfectly horizontal across the paper so that perfectly clear lines of text were able to be read, including social security numbers, and other sensitive information. It is clear that a typical office shredder was used to shred these documents since that is the common level of "security" that an office shredder provides. The differences between an office shredder and a commercial shredder is the level of security in the 'cut' of the paper. Security levels 1-6 exist with the higher the level, the higher the security of the cut. Office shredders typicall have level 1 or 2 security where the shreds of paper are thick, easy to read and easy to reconstruct. Security levels 3 and 4 give consequtively smaller cuts of paper and allow for cross-cutting, inhibiting the readability of the shreds as well as inhibiting the ability to reconstruct the shreds. Security levels 5 and 6 are recommended for destroying top-secret government or research documents due to the shreds coming from this shredder being like grated-cheese. It is typical of a commercial shredding company to have a shredder with a security level from 3-6. Then, in some instances, a reputable shredding company will go one step further and have your shreds pulverized and recycled.
The one thing that could have made a huge difference in each of these three situations is if the drug stores, the hospitals, and the police stations had all used a document shredding and storage company for their storage and destruction needs. Although the actions of safe and secure document storage and destruction seem straight forward and simple, they are best to be left in the hands of those companies who make it their sole purpose to protect information (yes, even AFTER it is shredded!).
As a legal professional, you generate tons and tons of files and confidential client information. Your industry or professional associates counsels you on what you should be doing with this information, how long you should keep it for, and when it can disposed of. Implementing the safe-keeping and safe destruction of your files though, is what is not so straight forward. Your private information is sacred to you, and you are probably weary of letting it out of your sight and handing it off to some self-storage company or leaving it unsecured in the office basement, as you should be. Then when it comes time to destroy those files of yours whose retention time is up, do you have the office intern sit at a paper shredder and manually feed your papers into an office shredder? How are those "shreds" then disposed of? Hopefully not in the dumpster.
As you can see, there are a lot of questions that arise even with the counsel of your industry advising you on what files to keep and for how long. To get rid of your headache, that is where records management company comes in. A reputable records management company can provide safe, and secure storage in climate controlled conditions where your files can be kept for the remainder of their retention period. When that retention period ends, a reputable records management company will also be able to provide certified shredding where after the shredding, the shreds are recycled so that no traces of your information exist except for the white pulp that may then be used again to fulfill one's morning coffee desires.
Find out what a Records Management company can do for YOU....
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Calling all Doctors' offices! Are your data disposal practices HIPAA compliant? Do you feel comfortable with your employees' knowledge of HIPAA? Are you sure that they are following correct protocol? If you have any question in your mind about HIPAA related data disposal, then we have the perfect answer for you. It's called the NAID Employee Information Disposal Training Program. This program was developed by NAID, the National Association of Information Destruction, and is brought to you (Doctors' Offices) by document destruction vendors that are members of NAID. Safeguard Records Management is a document destruction vendor, and member of NAID, who has realized the importance of this training video and has absorbed the costs of the video and training materials to bring this NAID program to you FREE OF CHARGE.
One of the many benefits of this training includes the fact that it is the ULTIMATE RISK MINIMIZER. "How?" you ask... well, NAID has stated that "HIPAA regulators have written that when employees are appropriately trained on proper data disposal, healthcare providers will not be held full responsible for disposal violations". At the same time, NAID also tells us that "HIPAA regulators have stated that failure to provide such training will result in the highest level of mandory fines".
So what do you have to lose? well, a lot if your office doesn't take advantage of this training program that can be completed in only about a half an hour! To learn more, watch the NAID video below and then when you are ready to have your risk minimized, click on the blue button to request more information or to schedule a training session!
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!
As 2011 comes to a close, businesses and offices are wrapping up their yearly doings, taking time to enjoy the holidays with colleagues, and getting ready for the start of the new year. Safeguard is too! Safeguard Records Management has decided to bring TWO exciting new offerings to the table in order better serve our destruction and archive customers.
Our first new offering will allow prospective and current ongoing destruction customers to have choices when it comes to their ongoing destruction bin. We are offering a new, duraflex destruction console in addition to the two convenient sized 35- and 65- gallon bins.This Console has many benefits over our shredding bins for offices looking for a more aesthetically pleasing ongoing destruction solution.
The sleek, clean console with a slit top and locking door allows for the security of a locking bin with the added benefit of looking more like it "belongs". Also, the console stays in place with only the interior insert being emptied rather getting a different bin during every rotation.
If your interested in receiving a shredding console, or switching our your bin for a console, contact Sean Kelly via contact form, phone, or e-mail.
Watch this video in order to get a general idea of what the Compliance Training can do for your office
Our second, most exciting offering that Safeguard has decided to take on and provide to our customers in the healthcare industry is the Doctor's Office Compliance Training Program. This exciting program has been developed by NAID, the National Association for Information Destruction and is applicable to healthcare and dental offices. And the best part... it's free! Yes, FREE! The way NAID gets this compliance training program out to healthcare offices is through certified NAID document destruction providers like Safeguard Records Management.
The program can easily be summarized with the 3 following steps:
Receive the video
Watch & Learn
That's it! Simple and quick and you're compliant, just like that! So what are the benefits of your office completing this compliance training you ask?
The best part about completing the HIPAA compliance training is, primarily, that you are at less risk of a breach of patient information (and yes, there is a but) BUT everyone knows that anything can happen these days and breaches can happen even in the most compliant and secure offices so here is where the training program really gives you a HUGE benefit... even if there is a breach of data or information, YOU ARE NOT HELD FULLY LIABLE BECAUSE YOU TOOK THE NECESSARY STEPS (i.e. the training) IN ORDER TO BE COMPLIANT!
Can it get any better than that? For minimal time and ZERO cost to you, your office can get trained on compliance with the HIPAA regulations for safeguarding healthcare information. With the maximum HIPAA fine going up 6,000% from $25,000 to $1,500,00 you have to ask yourself, can you really afford not to complete this zero cost training? (Click for more information on HIPAA)
2012 is gearing up to be a great year for Safeguard Records Management as we look to expand and improve our services in order to meet and exceed the growing needs of our customers. If you'd like to have Sean Kelly get in touch with you regarding anything you have read, please fill out a Contact Us form and he will respond to your inquiry within a couple of hours. In the mean time, be on the lookout for more information on our shredding consoles and the Doctor's Office Compliance Training Program so you can take advantage of it as soon as the new year rolls in!
Happy Holiday's and Happy New Year from everyone at Safeguard!
Records management may be the most important business service that you've never heard of. In an era of increasing identify theft and more stringent regulations, however, it's time to get the facts on this important industry.
If your company handles or stores customer information like names, addresses, medical records, Social Security or bank account numbers, then finding a safe, secure way to both manage and dispose your office's paperwork isn't optional—it's mandated by law. Depending on your industry, your business may be subject to federal laws like HIPAA or the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, but state regulations often also apply. Some regs, like Massachusetts General Laws 93H and 93I, require companies to have written procedures that outline how paper and electronic files are secured on a day-to-day basis, as well as how they will be destroyed once they are no longer needed. When companies fail to meet these basic standards, they can be subject to prosecution and end up paying significant fines—sometimes per record.
Here's where a Records Management System (RMS) comes in. These services come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but their purpose is essentially the same: to help companies manage their paper and electronic records in such a way that sensitive information is secured and properly stored, and remains accessible if needed in the future. A typical Records Management vendor will offer some (if not all) of the following services:
- Site analysis and compliance documentation
- Secure, off-site record storage for paper files
- Online access to storage inventory
- Scheduled document destruction services, one-time or ongoing
- Document imaging for digital storage and retrieval
- Disaster recovery planning
Of course, not all Records Management vendors are created equal. There are any number of companies to choose from—not all of whom can handle the job successfully. Take the time to evaluate each vendor carefully, and consider the following:
The National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) offers training and certification for Records Management professionals. Records Management vendors with this credential have completed extensive training and have pledged to follow the standards and ethical practices of the NAID organization.
A reputable Records Management vendor should know immediately what procedures your business needs to follow to be in compliance with federal and state laws. Educate yourself ahead of time regarding your particular industry so that you know whether their recommendations are on-target.
Learn how the vendor you are considering secures its own facilities. Ask what safeguards are in place for physical files, as well as digitally stored information. Be sure that the company has a definite policy regarding employee background checks. Every employee, but especially those with direct contact with sensitive information, should be thoroughly checked before gaining access to your company's files.
The Records Management vendor you choose should provide evidence of their commitment to customer service. Consider how responsive and flexible the vendor has been during the sales process: Were they easy to reach? Able to offer scalable solutions to your particular company? Was their pricing competitive? Next, ask for references and determine whether or not existing customers are satisfied with their level of service. Finally, determine what procedures are in place to ensure that the vendor is accessible when needed. 24/7 online access to your records is an absolute requirement.
A reputable, service-oriented Records Management vendor will lower your company's risk exposure, reduce document storage costs and allow you to focus on growing your business. Take the time to evaluate your current and future records management needs—and then find the vendor who is right for the job.
Virtually every single business and every single consumer is somehow affected by the following federal and Massachusetts State Laws. See how much you know, good luck!
1. What type of information does the FACTA (Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act) pertain to?
c.Any and all business related records
d.Any and all consumer information
2. What are considered reasonable measures for the proper and safe disposal of information according to FACTA?
a.Putting the information in black/non-see through bags for disposal in a dumpster
b.Placing the information in sealed boxes for disposal
c.Tearing up the information before disposal
d.none of the above
3. Which of the following destruction methods would put you in compliance with FACTA?
a.Using a NAID certified document destruction vendor
b.Having your documents shredded or pulverized
c.Both A and B
d.None of the above
4. What industry does the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 impact the most?
5. What are the penalties of non-compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 even if the non-compliance was a mistake?
a.A fine up to $1 million dollars and 10 years in prison,
b.A fine up to $100,000 dollars and up to 1 year in prison
c.A fine of $10,000 dollars
d.A prison sentence of 5 years
6. What type of medical information does HIPAA require health care providers to safeguard?
a.Any medical information on any patient
b.medical information that identifies who the patient is
c.Only medical information regarding illnesses and disease
d.Only medical billing information for the patient
7. What is the maximum penalty per HIPAA violation occurring after 2/18/2009?
a.Up to $100 per violation
b.Anywhere between $100- $50,000 + per violation
c.$500 per violation
d.$100-$1,000 per violation
8. What does the Massachusetts data protection law 93H require businesses to safeguard?
a.Social Security Numbers
c.Financial Account Numbers
d.All of the above
9. What does the Massachusetts data protection law 93I require businesses to do?
a.Properly document what information is destroyed and when
b.Have a written policy regarding how any sensitive information should be disposed of
c.Properly store information in a safe and secure manner
d.Witness any document shredding be performed
10. What is the maximum fine per incident of record compromised under the Massachusetts 93H and 93I laws?
a.$100 per record compromised
b.$500 per record compromised
c.$1000 per record compromised
d.$5000 per record compromised
Any area you need to brush up on? Visit the following links to get all the information you need on the state and federal compliance laws that affect you:
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.
The maximum fines for HIPAA violations have increased from $25,000 to $1,500,000. That's a 6,000% increase! Violations could include acts such as not properly destroying patient information before it is discarded. Also, if a practitioner has knowledge that their patients information has not been properly discarded, they are legally required to let both the authorities as well as their patients know that information is at risk.
The States' Attorneys General are now the ones in charge of ensuring HIPAA compliance. This change is meant to increase the policing of health care providers. AGs have already shown that they are ready to enforce the HIPAA laws and they are currently being trained by the Office of Civil Rights on how to effectively enforce HIPAA.
With fines reaching over one million dollars, you can never be "wrong" in doing what is right, performing safe and secure document destruction with Safeguard Records Management!
Is your client's personal information protected?
Destroying sensitive documents that are no longer being used is an important legal obligation for any company holding personal customer information.
SAFEGUARD announces a new full service Bin Document Destruction Program designed to free you from the hassle, expense and uncertainty of in house document shredding and disposal.
SAFEGUARD Disposal Bins are provided at no cost and SAFEGUARD will get you started with a FREE NO OBLIGATION ONSITE ASSESSMENT.
Simply drop your sensitive documents in the secure locked bin and our experienced, uniformed personnel will collect your confidential documents for secure transport to our state-of the-art destruction facility.
SAFEGUARD gives you the flexibility of either on-call or regular service intervals to switch out your full bins for empty ones. It’s the convenience of a waste basket with the peace of mind of complete information security.
To get started, call Sean Kelly at 508.795.1015