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Reasons Your Business Data Could End up in a Dumpster and How to Prevent it from Happening

It’s your turn to take out the office trash. Your eyes need a break from the computer screen anyway and the fresh air will do you some good. You make your way towards the corner of the parking lot where a lone dumpster dutifully sits. You lift the lid and are about to toss your garbage bag in when something catches your eye: file folders are scattered about the pile of bags. Craning your neck to get a closer look, you notice a document containing a social security number and birth date. But this isn’t the only one…you see one, two, too many to count. You take a deep breath and think to yourself, “What if this was my personal information?”

Unfortunately, confidential records end up in waste bins, roadside ditches, and trash dumpsters all too often. In the latest reported incident, an Arizona woman found job applications containing social security numbers and addresses lying on top and around a dumpster behind a Phoenix Denny’s restaurant. Fortunately, the woman reported the incident. Still, there’s no telling how many people had access to that unsecure data before she discovered it.

You’re probably shaking your head right now, and rightly so. It’s a disturbing situation on a number of levels. At some point you’ve entrusted your personal data to a company and you expect them to protect it-especially in the aforementioned scenario where such a breach could have been easily prevented. And if you’re a business owner you’re probably wondering how to prevent something similar from happening. Yet before you run out to your local office supply store and purchase a shredding machine, you may want to consider a few things.

It’s Human Nature to Procrastinate

Everyone procrastinates. It’s no wonder that sensitive files often sit on desks for days or weeks at a time waiting to be shredded. In the meantime, all that data is openly exposed to any number of prying eyes:

  • co-workers
  • maintenance crews
  • cleaning staff
  • clients

In So even if an employee understands that shredding is the right thing to do, they may be all too likely to put it off until a later date.

How You Shred is Just as Important as What You Shred

The trusty paper shredding machine has become a commonplace fixture in almost every office. In theory, they sound like great tools-employees can easily shred any confidential documents-yet in reality, they are often the reason that sensitive information is improperly disposed of. Shredding machines are problematic for a variety of reasons:

  • They’re prone to paper jams and maintenance problems
  • A limited amount of documents can be shredded
  • Receptacles have to be emptied on a regular basis
  • If the shredded particles are not small enough, data can still be compromised

With all of the issues associated with paper shredding machines, an employee may instead be tempted to simply toss confidential documents into the trash.

Shredding documents with the typical paper shredding machine takes time. When maintaining productivity is a priority, time spent shredding confidential information can be counterproductive. Simply put, tossing documents in a trash or recycling bin is all too easy. An information destruction program should make it just as effortless and quick for staff to securely dispose of files and documents.

The Pillars of Document Destruction

There’s no question that shredding sensitive information goes a long way in preventing your data from falling into the wrong hands. But most companies go about it in the wrong way. A corporate document destruction program is built on the following pillars:

  • process
  • method
  • frequency

Without the necessary expertise, dedication and oversight, your company’s confidential files could easily end up in the trash. A professionally managed shredding and destruction solution eliminates the likelihood of this happening.

Records Management Center provides businesses throughout Augusta, Evans, Thomson, and Martinez, GA, and Aiken, SC and the Central Savannah River Area with professional shredding and destruction services. To find out more, please get in touch with us by phone or fill in the form on this page.