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Sean Kelly,
General Mgr.
Safeguard Records Management Co., Inc.

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Storage & Shredding: Expert Advice

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Records Management for Legal Professionals

 

Legal 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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Never Want to Have to Spring Clean your Documents Again?

 

grassIt's that time of year again, time for spring cleaning. Usually most people spend daunting days and countless hours organizing their documents every year, but we think that should change. Instead of having everything pile up each year waiting to steal your precious spring days away from you to organize it all, why not implement a plan, a document organization plan, that would allow you to never have to waste spring days again??

We'll do you one better than just telling you that you should formulate a plan, we'll GIVE you the plan! And its SIMPLE! What could be better? If you follow our three-step plan, we know that these three steps will bring you closer to free spring days and futher away from docu-disaster.

Step 1: Digitize. When you come across important documents or files, scan them. Save them on a hard drive, disk, or flash drive. Ensure that these are all secure electronic storage methods by password protecting documents. If you can do this daily or even weekly and get into the habit of it, you will thank yourself in the long-run.

Step 2: Decide. So you've digitized important files. Now you need to decide whether or not the document should have a hard copy stored or if the document is safe to be securely shredded.

Step3: DO! Once you have decided to either store the documents or shred the documents, DO IT!

Having a certified and secure document shredding and archiving vendor can not only help to save you time in that you don't have to shred the documents yourself and office space in not having to store your documents on-site, but a vendor makes it easy to get in the habit of storing and shredding. If you have a box of documents you need to add to your storage account, just give them a call and they should be able to retrieve your box, barcode it, add it to your inventory, and securely store it for you.  They should also be able to deliver any documents or files to you upon request. A vendor that stores your documents as well as shreds them is a blessing. Usually, a vendor can provide you with locked, slit-top shredding bins or console that can be placed in your office that you can place sensitive documents into whenever you come across them. Change out of full bin or console for an empty one is just a phone call away.

So now you've got a plan. Give us a call and lets get started!

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Tax Records: What To Keep and For How Long? Get Your Answers Now!

 

Right about now there are two types of people in the U.S., those who have done their taxes, and those who haven't. The big deadline is April 17th... a mere weekend and day away. Luckily, for both types of people, there is no deadline for figuring out what in the world to do with all of your tax and related financial documents, past and present. And thus, the question begs to be asked; how long do I need to keep all of my important tax information? And what do I need to keep?  We will start with this: three years is the golden standard for some tax documents, since that is the amount of time the IRS has to audit someone, but other documents should be kept forever, as they can come in handy in many future situations. We’ve put a table together below to help sort it all out for you…

Document Type

How long to keep it?

What to do with it?

Financial Records

(W-2’s, cancelled checks, receipts, bills, etc.)

3 years (minimum)

Securely shred after a minimum of 3 years

The tax return itself

(1040/accompanying forms, etc.)

Indefinitely

Ideally, secure storage of the hard copy documents is preferred. If that’s not an option for you, another option is to digitize the documents with a scanner and securely shred the paper documents.

Stock Purchase Receipts

(With the date and price paid for each)

Indefinitely

Secure storage or digitize and securely shred

Home Improvement Records

(To help in offsetting taxes if you ever sell your home)

Indefinitely

Secure storage or digitize and securely shred

We recommend keeping hard copy files of all of your documents until their retention time is up rather than digitizing them due to the possibility of a data breach that could lead to your digital information being stolen. Identify and credit card theft is all too common these days and any ways to reduce that possibility are always stressed and thus, the secure shredding of all of your tax and financial records once their retention time is up is necessary to keep ensuring that your information has no way of getting into the hands of a thief. The best bet for shredding is always utilizing a shredding company, brownie points if they are NAID members, who use shredders that not only tear the papers into easy to put back together strips, but pulverize the paper, turn it into pulp, and then recycle it.

Tax season already has its drawbacks, so don't let information theft be one of them... request more information on keeping your information secure by clicking any of the buttons below!

 

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(See this article for more specific information on what the above is a summary about: http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2012/04/02/149714051/you-should-keep-tax-records-but-how-and-for-how-long)

 

Records Management that Doubles as Risk Management

 

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!

 

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Business Records Management tricking you? Let Safeguard Treat you!

 
It's that time of year again. Time for carving pumpkins, getting out your spookiest decorations and stocking up on candy for the hoards of kids who will soon be roaming the neighborhood.

Halloween has changed a lot over the years. Although it's hard to imagine these days, Halloween or All Hallow's Eve, was not a popular holiday among the early Protestants living in the New England Colonies. It was considered too connected to the religious trappings of the Old World to garner much interest or support. Over time, however, as more and more immigrants brought their All Hallow's Eve traditions with them to their new homeland, the lure of parties, games and costumes proved irresistible, even to our stoic New England ancestors. The holiday we know as Halloween eventually took hold and prospered.

Protect Sensitive InformationJust as holiday traditions change, so do the rules of how we conduct business. In Massachusetts, companies are subject to a variety of both state and federal laws that mandate how customer information is handled. While business records management used to be something left to the discretion of the individual company, serious concerns about data security and the rise in identify theft have necessitated a more formal approach. It's no longer sufficient, wise or even legal to leave sensitive customer documents lying around the office. It's now a requirement to have a clear, systematic process in place to maintain and manage this type of information.

While federal laws like FACTA, HIPAA and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act pertain to specific industries, Massachusetts General Laws 93H and 93I apply to companies across the board. Under 93H, any business in Massachusetts that retains an individual's name, Social Security number, driver's license number or financial account number (such as a debit or credit card) must have a written plan outlining their data/document security procedures and conduct regular audits to ensure that the procedures are being followed. 93I requires that both documents and electronic files containing sensitive information be destroyed according to a set plan and schedule. Failure to comply with either regulation can cost companies thousands of dollars—per mismanaged record.

Overwhelmed yet? Don't be. At Safeguard Records Management, we've created a business records management system that will ensure that your company stays in compliance with all federal and state laws requirements. We use the latest technology to maintain, track and secure your sensitive files, and will work with you to develop a customized solution for your unique set of data security needs. We offer a range of services to help businesses manage not only the daily record-keeping process, but the storage and destruction of old company files as well.

Safeguard Records Management prides itself on its comprehensive business records management system and its ongoing commitment to customer service. Contact us today to learn more about how we can provide your company with a safe, reliable, and economical solution to your data security and storage needs.

Are your Medical Records Safe? Medical Identity Theft & ill effects

 

I'm sure a lot of you have heard of identity theft but what about Medical identity theft? Medical Records Storage

It's possible and it's happening. A recent data breach at Beth Israel hospital in Massachusetts has left many of its patients at risk of having their medical identity stolen. Medical identity theft is a spin on regular identity theft as it can affect your finances and credit, but it can also affect your health.

What are the warning signs that someone is trying to steal your medical identity?

1. You get a medical bill for services you did not receive
2. A debt collector contacts you regarding a bill for medical services you did not receive
3. You get a copy of our credit report and you see medical collection notices that you do not recognize
4. You try to make a legitimate insurance claim but your health plan says you have reached our limit
5. You are denied medical insurance coverage because your medical records indicate a condition that you do not have


Not only could your finances be affected by medical identity theft, but your medical records and history could be altered which may lead to you receiving improper treatment which may cause illness or worse.

To stay protected, make sure you do the following...

1. Verify sources before giving out information. Giving out medical or personal information over the phone or through e-mail can be risky business and put you are higher risk of having your medical identity stolen.
2. Safeguard your medical and health insurance information. Make sure that your paper files and any medical information you have is protected either under lock and key by using a secure medical archiving vendor or, if your information is online, make sure it is password protected. Always check the security of a website before entering your social security number or credit card information.
3. Properly dispose of your records. If you keep your medical records for a period of time, when the time comes to get rid of your records, never just toss them in the trash. Make sure they are securely shredded and disposed of afterwards.


For more information on how to protect your medical identity, visit

http://www.worldprivacyforum.org/

http://ihcrp.georgetown.edu/privacy/records.html

and if you think your rights under HIPAA have been violated, please visit

www.hhs.gov/ocr

Shredding 101

 

Document Shredding Worcester and BostonSo 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:
Http://ftc.gov/opa/2005/06/disposal.shtm

and visit:

http://www.safeguardrecords.com/

for more information on how a shredding service can help you.

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