If you’re at a small business, you may not have given your paper shredder a lot of thought. Maybe you brought equipment from your home or purchased a cheap option at an office supply store. However, if you don’t dispose of your confidential information with the proper equipment and systems, you put your customers and employees at great risk for identity theft. In 2018, identity theft affected over 60 million Americans. It’s easy for a criminal to access sensitive data through ‘dumpster diving’ and piecing together torn-up documents. Investing in a professional shredding system and professional shredding services will protect sensitive information.
In January of 2020, the FTC reported identity theft statistics by state for 2019. Georgia had the highest rate of identity theft reports per capita in the U.S. Its neighbor, Alabama, ranked 19th, and Tennessee was ranked 21st. While these aren’t the highest rankings on the list, they are high enough to be very concerning. The FTC also ranked the top 10 metropolitan areas for identity theft reports. Memphis, Tennessee was voted #9 on the list, with 219 reports for every 100,000 people. Since the amount of data businesses generate is multiplying by the second, you need professional systems in place to safeguard your information.
When you’re deciding on the right shredding service and equipment, consider two different types of machines: strip and cross-cut. Strip shredders are commonly found in homes and typically use a single blade to cut documents into ribbon-like strips. The problem is the strips are wide enough to be pieced back together, and therefore it’s easy to read private information. It’s also a time consuming, hassle to shred high volumes of paper into tiny pieces with strip shredders.
On the other hand, cross-cut shredders cut large amounts of paper into small, confetti-like bits. They cut documents horizontally and vertically, and you can’t piece them back together to read the information when the documents are destroyed. These are also useful if you want to shred documents yourself. A cross-cut shredder can offer more protection for your security documents. A micro-cut shredder is an advanced type of cross-cut shredder and shreds the paper into even smaller pieces. If you want to shred your documents so that it’s impossible to piece information back together, a cross-cut shredder is the suitable choice.
Implementing a professional shredding system will reduce your paper trail risk. Using a service creates a “chain of custody”, a documented trail, for you to identify where your documents are at all times. It allows you to track the document destruction process from the moment your sensitive information leaves your office and demonstrates regulatory compliance.
Other components of a chain of custody for secure shredding can include a bar code tracking system and a Certificate of Destruction. The barcode tracks each touch point during your document’s life cycle. Additionally, GPS-tracked trucks monitor the real-time locations of the document.
The Certificate of Destruction is essential to a chain of custody. It provides proof that the destruction is complete. Most certificates of destruction will include information like the date of service, service provider’s name, and a legal statement confirming the scope of work performed. A Certificate of Destruction for confidential information shows that you uphold the provisions of data protection laws and protects you from liability issues.
As your business grows, you need systems that can keep up. Data theft is on the rise. It may be time to evaluate how your organization is managing the disposal of confidential documents. You can benefit from the peace of mind knowing that your business is doing everything the right way to protect the private information of people placing their trust with you.