The Legal Responsibility of Document Destruction
AccuShred can help you destroy your sensitive documents in several ways:
There are a myriad of reasons why proper record retention and disposal is necessary for any business. Security and concern for the environment are important reasons to shred, but legal compliance can make or break an organization. As a result of improper records management, companies often get torpedoed into situations involving a damaged reputation, loss of business, hefty fines and litigation.
Protecting your business from the legal repercussions surrounding improper or insufficient document destruction begins with an organized system. Creating a start-to-finish records management system may seem daunting, but it’s really very simple. Here’s a breakdown:
- Gather knowledge of state and federal law, as they pertain to your industry. Requirements will differ by industry. The length of time a doctor’s office must retain a patient file differs from the length of time an employer must retain certain employee documents, such as the I-9.
- Determine required record retention timeline. (See step 1) Industry, State, and Federal guidelines will help you determine how long records must be kept.
- Partner with a shredding company to ensure proper disposal of documents. It is imperative to properly eradicate any documents with sensitive information once they’ve reached the end of your record-keeping timeline. The longer you hold onto sensitive employee or client information beyond the required time length, the bigger the potential for lost, stolen or careless disposal of that information.
Formalizing your records management policy allows you to have a clear plan for all employees and avoid any unwanted, arbitrary document destruction. In some industries, a formalized system is a legal requirement. It will also help protect your business in the event of an investigation or lawsuit.
Whether you’re in Toledo OH or Seattle WA, there are state and federal laws surrounding the retention and disposal of records that you should be aware of. The three main federal laws that affect records management and shredding practices, include:
- Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX): SOX upped the standards for all public companies. This Act has multiple components that are designed to make businesses more transparent, meaning requirements to maintain accurate records for the required amounts of time.
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): One of the main objectives of HIPAA is to protect the privacy and security of patient information. HIPAA actually requires a formal records management strategy for any medical facility maintaining patient records. The company must have a proper document disposal method, and all employees must be educated on retention and disposal.
- The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2203 (FACTA): The primary purpose of this amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act is to protect consumers from identity theft. This applies to any business that takes customer information, especially identifying and financial information.
Additional laws vary by state and industry. Even with the best of intentions to be compliant, the ins & outs of daily operations can make it difficult to ensure all legal requirements are being met, all the time. Fortunately, document shredding companies, in Toledo OH and all over the country can offer guidance on the legal requirements of document destruction and act as an ideal partner in the records management process.