Every Business Has Information That Requires Destruction. All businesses have occasion to discard confidential data. Customer lists, price lists, sales statistics, drafts of bids and letters, even memos, contain information about business activity, which would interest any competitor. Every business is also entrusted with information that must be kept private. Employees and customers have the legal right to have this data protected.
Without the proper safeguards, information ends up in the dumpster where it is readily and legally available to anybody. The trash is considered by business espionage professionals as the single most available source of competitive and private information from the average business. Any establishment that discards private property data without the benefit of destruction exposes itself to the risk of criminal and civil prosecution, as well as the costly loss of business.
Why should stored records be destroyed on a regular basis?
The period of time that business records are stored should be determined by a retention schedule that takes into consideration their useful value to the business and the governing legal requirements. No record should be kept longer than this retention period.
By not adhering to a program of routinely destroying stored records, a company exhibits suspicious disposal practices that could be negatively construed in the event of litigation or audit.
Also, the new “Federal Rule 26” requires that, in the event of a law suit, each party will provide all relevant records to the opposing counsel within 85 days of the defendant’s initial response. If either of the litigants does not fulfill this obligation, it could result in a summary finding against them. By destroying records according to a set schedule, a company appropriately limits the amount of materials it must search through to comply with this law. From a risk management perspective, the only acceptable method of discarding stored records is to destroy them by a method that ensures that the information is obliterated. Documenting the exact date that a record is destroyed is a recommended legal precaution.
What is the difference between per pound and per minute?
DSS favors pricing per pound rather that per minute. Charging per minute provides great protection for the shredding company, but can be very unfriendly to the customers. There are subtle and not so subtle issues that should make for customer cautions.
When charging per minute, the standard is to charge for the time to collect and shred. Collection time depends on the number of containers, types of containers and the distance and obstacles (freight elevators) between them.
The more containers that can be placed, and the longer it takes to collect the material, the more revenue can be generated, while the sales pitch can tout it as customer service.
Even more importantly, total time depends on the number of people doing the work. Most vendors who charge per minute supply only one person per truck, perhaps because supplying two would reduce the total billable time by 25-50%! Vendors who charge per pound have an incentive to put a second person on their trucks to get the job done quickly.
Some materials shred much slower than others, When charging per minute, the shredding company is insulated from any impact-the customer picks up the tab.
There is little incentive to upgrade equipment or find a way to operate more efficiently. Faster service would only mean decreased revenue.
Average on-site shredders shred 900 pounds per hour
Per minute: 2000 pounds average 2.2 hours
@ $3.33 per minute = $466.20
Per pound: 2000 pounds @ $0.16 per pound = $320
Per pound vs. per minute savings = $140
Why not just use the trashcan or dumpster for disposal of records?
Without a program to control it, the daily trash of every business contains information that could be harmful. This information is especially useful to competitors because it contains the details of current activities. Discarded daily records include phone messages, memos, misprinted forms, drafts of bids and drafts of correspondence.
All businesses suffer potential exposure due to the need to discard these incidental business records. The only means of minimizing this exposure is to make sure such information is securely collected and destroyed.
Couldn't I recycle and get the same results as shredding?
To extract the scrap value from office paper, recycling companies use unscreened, minimum wage workers to extensively sort the material under unsecured conditions. The “acceptable” paper is stored for indefinite periods until there is enough of a particular type to process. The sorted paper, still intact, is then baled and sold to the highest bidder, often overseas, where it may be stored again for weeks or even months until it is finally used to make new products.
There is no fiduciary responsibility inherent in the recycling scenario. Paper is given away or sold and, in doing so, a company gives up the right to say how it is handled. There is, also, no practical means of establishing the exact date that a record is destroyed. In the event of an audit or litigation, this could be a legal necessity. And further, if something of a private nature does surface, the selection of this unsecured process could be interpreted as negligent. For these reasons, the choice of recycling as a means of information destruction is undesirable from a risk management perspective.
If environmental responsibility is a concern, materials may be recycled after they are destroyed or a firm can contract a service that will destroy the materials under secure conditions before recycling them. Any recycling company that minimizes the need for security has its own interests in mind and should be avoided.
Should I trust my documents to just any shredding company?
Take the time to investigate the company you are dealing with. A “Certificate of Destruction” is only as good as the company that will be destroying your confidential information. KNOW THE COMPANY YOU ARE DEALING WITH. Any company contracting an information destruction service should require that it provide them with a signed testimonial, documenting the date that the materials were destroyed. The “certificate of destruction”, as it is commonly referred, is an important legal record of compliance with a retention schedule. It does not, however, effectively transfer the responsibility to maintain the confidentiality of the materials to the contractor.
If private information surfaces after the vendor accepts it, the court is bound to question the process by which the particular contractor was selected. Any company not showing the due diligence in their selection of a contractor that is capable of providing the necessary security could be found negligent.
From a risk management standpoint, if information is leaked by the fraud or negligence of a vendor, their obligations are irrelevant. The firm whose information falls into the wrong hands stands to loose the most, either from the loss of business, prosecution, or unfavorable publicity.
Since a business cannot transfer its responsibility to maintain confidentiality, it must be certain that it is dealing with a reputable company with superior security procedures. Unfortunately, there are those information services that provide certificates of destruction while having no semblance of security and, in some cases, no destruction process available to them. Anyone interested in contracting a data destruction service is advised to thoroughly review their policies and procedures, conduct an initial site audit and conduct subsequent unannounced audits.
Should I trust my record storage company to destroy my documents?
Most commercial records storage facilities offer records destruction as a service to their customers. However, in a survey conducted by the National Association for Information Destruction, many of those firms were found lacking the equipment necessary to provide the services themselves. It is a common practice in the industry to subcontract the destruction of records. In some cases, disreputable storage firms were found misleading their customer by charging for secure records destruction while the materials were being sold to a recycling company for scrap.
Any business using a commercial records storage firm should inquire as to the nature of the destruction services that are available. It is an unacceptable risk to permit a storage firm to select a subcontractor to provide the records destruction service. The owner of the records is ultimately responsible for their security and, therefore should be selecting the vendor directly.
Couldn't my own employees shred my documents?
Common sense dictates that payroll information and materials that involve labor relations or legal affairs should not be entrusted to lower level employees for destruction. But beyond that, competition sensitive information is best protected from them as well. It has been established, time and again that employees are the most likely to realize the value of certain information to competitors. And, lower wage employees often have the economic incentive to capitalize their success on it. The only acceptable alternatives are to have the materials destroyed under the supervision of upper management or by a carefully selected, high security service.
How important is it to protect the documents of Senior Management?
In a survey cited by the Association for Records Managers and Administrators, Int’l, top executives from 300 companies ranked the security of company records as one of the top five critical issues facing business. When asked which issues required immediate attention and policy development, the security of company records ranked second only to employee health screening.
Information disposal is a crucial component of any records security program. While most senior executives do not have the time to become involved directly with this issue, it is something that is obviously very important to them.
I have offices in several states. Can DSS provide service to those locations too?
DSS provides service to all of Texas and can assist you in finding service through out the United States.
Does DSS supply locking containers for me to store my material in until I am ready for a pickup?
Yes, DSS has several containers for you to choose from. All of which are secure and have an opening for you to deposit material through.
What if I only need to use shredding services one time?
DSS can help you for a one time service or if you need routine shredding DSS can put you on a daily, weekly or monthly schedule.
What happens to the material after it is destroyed?
The paper that is destroyed is sent to a paper mill to be recycled.
Do I have to remove rubber bands, staples, paper clips or other types of paper fasteners?