Is It Really Necessary to Shred Documents? 

Data breaches and identity theft, once freak occurrences, have become commonplace in today’s hyperconnected world. According to IBM’s most recent Data Breach report, the average data breach in 2023 costed approximately $4.45 million USD. While many businesses have taken additional steps to protect their digital assets and liabilities, the same crucial attention is often forgotten for hard copies.

Placing confidential information in a recycling bin is not safe. A single document falling into the wrong hands could spell disaster for your business. Securely shredding documents is critical for protecting your business.

Why Shred Documents? 

1. Comply with Laws and Regulations

Information security is under more rigorous legislation today than ever before. When you don’t comply with regulations for properly handling sensitive customer information, penalties may apply. You don’t just have a moral obligation to protect your customers’ information, but you also have a legal duty to securely handle their data.

2. Prevent Identity Theft

Documents often contain sensitive information like Social Security numbers, addresses, and credit card details. If these documents fall into the wrong hands, they can be used for identity theft, causing significant harm to individuals and financial loss to the business. Shredding ensures such information is unreadable and unusable, minimizing this risk.

3. Reduce Clutter and Improve Efficiency

Shredding documents that you no longer need not only protects your customers and employees and meets your legal obligations, but it also frees up office space and helps you to get organized. Spending the time to go through your business documents and customer records will create extra space in your office to focus on other areas of your business.

4. Protect Customer and Employee Privacy

Businesses have a responsibility to protect the personal information of both customers and employees. This includes information like health records, financial data, and contact details. Shredding demonstrates a commitment to data security and builds trust with stakeholders.

5. Enhance Business Reputation

Data breaches and identity theft can severely damage a business’s reputation. By taking proactive steps like document shredding, businesses can show their commitment to data security and build trust with customers and partners, ultimately strengthening their reputation.

What Documents Should Be Shredded?

Understanding that your documents can be major liabilities is the first step in protecting your livelihood, but what’s often less clear to business owners is which documents you should be shredding. Here are a few examples of items that your office should be shredding:

  • Contracts with customer names and addresses
  • Employee agreements with social security numbers
  • Bank statements
  • Check records
  • Payroll records
  • Tax records
  • Credit Card numbers
  • Accounting statements

When Should Your Company be Shredding?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here, as each business will have different needs: a hospital or medical service provider who sees a large number of clients might need to shred documents daily, while a lawyer with a small practice might only need to shred documents on a monthly basis.

​The important thing, however, is that you make document destruction a standard operating procedure. Additionally, contracting a National Association of Information Destruction (NAID) certified company to destroy your documents regularly can protect you from some liability, even if documents do end up in the wrong hands.

R4 Services Can Help Protect Your Business

Whether you’re a medical service provider, a B2B business, or anything in between, R4 has simple shredding solutions that can take liabilities off your plate. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business, or check out our options for document destruction.

Prior to shredding your documents, make certain that you are not required to store and maintain records for a given time period. Consult with R4 Services or your governing entity.

Have questions? Give us a call today to discuss your needs!