Overtime businesses accumulate large volumes of documentation. Employee records, accounting documentation, customer information, human resource files, and much more piles up.
Each business handles these documents differently. A seemingly simple (and very common) way to handle this paperwork is to file each document away for records keeping purposes once it’s use has been fulfilled.
If your company files away documentation and never tosses anything out, you are practicing a “keep all” policy.
What is a Keep All Policy?
Just like it sounds, a keep all policy is a records management strategy where documents are never thrown out. Records spanning the lifetime of a company are kept in an effort to ensure critical documents aren’t lost or accidentally disposed of.
Benefits of a Keep All Policy
The proponents of a keep all system generally point to the fact that in any audit or legal dispute, they can easily provide accurate and thorough evidence to settle the matter.
These companies would rather be safe than sorry, and abide by the idea that it’s better to have too much information than not enough.
Many companies see this type of system as safe, convenient, and efficient. They simply file away their documents and never think twice. They keep a solid history of all company records.
Downfalls of a Keep All Policy
While a keep all policy ensures that you never come up empty handed, it can also put your company at risk and create legal liability.
If your business is broken into, or your digital database is hacked and those files are stolen or compromised, the company will face large fines and mountains of legal trouble.
In addition, holding onto an ever growing volume of documents creates increasing costs of storage space. Whether your files are digital or physical, you will have to constantly pay for more space, and as time goes on your documents will be harder to sort through and locate.
How Does a Keep All Policy Create Legal Liability?
Companies are legally obligated to protect any sensitive information they handle. They can use encryption tactics, keep physical files in locked cabinets, but in the end, no matter how well it’s protected, if information is leaked it will lead to legal punishment.
Federal and state laws are cracking down on companies that irresponsibly handle documents containing personal and sensitive information. Even if your files aren’t hacked, you can still face punishment for risky behavior.
Keeping documents past their required retention period puts them at risk, and is seen as unnecessary and irresponsible. Your company can be held legally responsible if that information is compromised, and holding onto it when you don’t need to only creates problems.
The best way to avoid being penalized for a data leak is to get rid of the data. Destroy sensitive information the day it reaches its expiration to avoid the unnecessary risk of a data breach that you will be held responsible for.
Why Create and Follow Strict Document Retention Times?
Document retention rules serve an important purpose. Once you are no longer legally obligated to hold onto a certain record, the best course of action is to make it illegible, and then throw it away or recycle it.
Creating a strict record retention policy at your office and thoroughly training every employee on proper procedures will greatly reduce your risk of exposing sensitive information.
If you are aware of and follow all information security laws for your industry (think HIPAA, FACTA, local laws, etc.) you lessen the chance of being slapped with a large fine and a tarnished reputation.
And beyond simply protecting your company from an onslaught of legal and financial issues, it’s important to remember the core purpose of protecting sensitive information: the individual.
Destroying documents past their retention keeps the private information of your customers, employees, and business partners safe.
Dealing with identity theft and fraud is a headache and can result in long-lasting, unnecessary pain. Do your part to protect the people that help make your business a success.
Best Methods to Comply with Information Security Laws
When it comes down to the logistics of keeping information on physical files safe, there is no better way than to shred them.
Burning documents is unhealthy for the environment, and simply throwing documents out without taking proper precautions is irresponsible and puts your company at risk.
Document shredding turns files into mulch fast, and most facilities recycle the shredded bits which adds an extra layer of security.
When you send your records to a shredding facility they are mixed in with thousands of other documents and the shredded bits are mingled, never to be put back together again.
For the most efficient, cost effective way to safely and surely destroy your physical paperwork, partner with a local document shredding service provider in your area.
Need Help Finding a Reliable Shredder in Your Area?
Shred Nations partners with certified document shredders throughout the nation. Call us today at (800) 747-3365 or fill out the form on the right for free quotes on shredding services from professionals near you.
Keeping the private information of your employees, customers, and business partners safe is your legal responsibility, let us help ensure you are complying with all information governance laws.