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4 Types of Documents to Shred

As a small business owner, you know keeping outdated documents too long exposes your organization to identity theft. That’s why it’s important to have a scheduled shredding program. But what documents should you shred? Here’s a helpful list to follow!

1. Employment Records

Employers are responsible for destroying employment tax records, personnel files, and payroll documents. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) states, “any employer whose action or inaction results in the loss of employee information can be fined by federal and state government and sued in civil court.” As a result, the following are examples of employment records that should be shredded when they’re no longer needed:

  • Pre-employment files
  • Payroll documents
  • I-9 forms

Hiring a NAID AAA Certified paper shredding vendor helps your business comply with FACTA disposal rules.

2. Medical Records

Physicians are bound by patient confidentiality provisions outlined in the Health Information and Portability and Accessibility Act (HIPAA). The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) oversees enforcement of HIPAA regulations and has power to levy fines on providers that fail to comply with its privacy protection requirements. Although retention periods for medical records are typically long, when final disposition dates are reached, files with protected health information (PHI) must be destroyed in a secure and verifiable manner. Failure to apply destruction policies in accordance with HIPAA and HITECH may result in heavy fines.

3. Financial Records

Your business creates financial records such as the following documents:

  • Balance statements
  • Client contracts
  • Purchase orders
  • Expense reports
  • Bank statements

The IRS recommends retaining supportive records that corroborate any business income or deductions claim until the “period of limitations” expires for that tax return. Many of these records can be destroyed after seven years. If you’re unsure what financial documents to destroy, consult with your attorney or a tax professional so they can verify your specific retention and final disposition obligations.

4. Miscellaneous Documents

Many documents don’t easily fall into any of the above categories. For example, outdated documents containing marketing strategies, trade secrets, or branded material may also contain sensitive information. As a rule of thumb, shred all expired documents with confidential personal, medical or corporate data. To eliminate as much risk as possible, adopt a “shred everything” policy so employees don’t have to decide what constitutes confidential or non-confidential information.

A qualified shredding and destruction provider can help you dispose of any and all business documents promptly and securely.

Richards & Richards offers secure document shredding and media destruction services for businesses throughout Nashville. For more document destruction guidance, please call us at 615-242-9600 or complete the form on this page.

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