There are stories in the media almost daily about identity theft, fraud and hacking scandals, which, for any business in any industry, can be quite worrying. Ensure that your company is protected against these crimes by destroying important documents regularly. Many offices have the usual set-ups: desktop computers and laptops, photocopiers, colour laser printers and even a fax machine.
Is a shredder an essential tool in your business?
The reasons for shredding are numerous: firstly, for security reasons and secondly, to prevent fraud. Security breaches due to confidential documents in the wrong hands are more common than you think. The details of an upcoming and important business merger in an emerging market falling into the hands of your biggest rivals could prove to be catastrophic to your business, reputation and even the industry as a whole. Secondly, identity theft on a personal level can be devastating - not just the loss of hard earned money, but the perceived feeling of violation and a diminished sense of privacy. Identity theft can be just as emotionally harmful to an individual, or indeed a business, as a burglary.
Additionally, shredding documents will ensure your business contributes towards recycling and minimising their carbon footprint. Recycling paper can save water, trees, electricity and will reduce the amount of pollutants in the air.
Shredding: What needs to go?
There are many documents in your office that will need to be kept on record for varying lengths of time; however, everything else non-essential can be shredded.
As a general rule, you should destroy anything that contains address, signature, account numbers, social security information, medical or legal details. In addition to this, anything that is confidential, contains customer or client information, such as; utility bills, credit card and sales receipts should also be shredded too.
If you are unsure of what to keep, and what to shred, please use the following as a guide on how long documents should be kept on record, whether for business or home:
- Junk mail - if it has your name or address on, shred immediately
- Sales receipts - check for errors against your statement, then shred
- Tax-related documents - Keep for seven years before destroying
- Mortgage documents - Keep for at least six years after the sale of the property
- Payslips - should be kept on record for one year
- Medical documents - Keep for 1-2 years before shredding
- Bank statements - keep for one year, or better yet; go paperless with online statements
- Insurance documents - Keep for five years after the end of the policy
- Bills - Unless these are tax related, shred immediately after payment
Records you should always keep hold of: birth, death and marriage certificates, driving licenses, mortgage and vehicle deeds, wills and power of attorney.
There are two main types of shredder - the strip cut and cross cut. Strip cut slices through documents, and cross cut turns paper into confetti. While cross cut shredders are more secure; the end product is harder to recycle. Weigh up your options before committing to a shredder for your business – are you more concerned about being eco-friendly or keeping confidential information secure?
Re-use and Recycle
Whilst all types of paper and card can be shredded, the way in which you shred can often determine how much can be recycled afterwards. Cross cut papers are more difficult to recycle and will end up as low grade paper. Strip cut paper is much easier to recycle due to less damage made in the shredding process.
If you would prefer to recycle your shredding waste yourself, you can always use the shredded paper or confetti as bedding for pets like hamsters, rabbits or even horses. You could add your paper waste to a composter or use in a home fire.
Printware is proud to supply eco-friendly office supplies for all of your business needs, including colour laser printers as well as shredders and much more. Please contact us for more details.