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Business Documents You Should be Shredding

Business Documents You Should be Shredding

While technologies and the way we do business continue to evolve at the speed of light, a lot of business throughout many industries is still conducted using large amounts of paper. Many of these paper documents can contain very personal and sensitive information, such as social security numbers, family health history, bank account information, and more. As important as this information is to conduct business with clients or treat patients, it's just as important to protect this confidential information to avoid data breaches and identity theft.

Business Documents You Should be Shredding Graphic

As an owner of your practice or a manager of your business managing patient records or client documentation with personal information, it's important to know what should be shredded and not to hold on to certain documents for too long. Holding on to some documents for too long creates a greater potential for fraud risks. However, always follow regulations for retention periods to remain legally compliant. Policies and retention requirements may vary by industry and by document type.

What Documents to Shred and When

Here are some examples of documents and records generated by businesses or medical practices. These may include confidential information and require compliant data destruction methods such as shredding.

  • Internal Financial Records - it is suggested to retain copies of these documents. They may include cash flow statements, P&L's, etc.
  • Bank or Credit Card Statements - these can be shredded after a year, if not sooner. Many documents like these are available digitally through your bank and easily accessible if needed.
  • Utility Bills - after payment, shred immediately or as soon as possible.
  • Patient Records - refer to state-specific laws for retention periods and safeguarding protected health information (PHI). Once past the retention period, having these records shredded is a compliant method to keep patient information safe.
  • Property Purchase Documents - keep this documentation for at least 7 years after you no longer own the property. However, you should keep copies of deeds or titles.
  • Tax Records and W2 Forms - retention periods can vary based on your tax situation and period of limitations. In certain circumstances, these documents can be shredded between 3 and 7 years after filing.
  • Human Resources/Employee Files and I9 Forms - this could include payroll records, employee benefits, etc. and retention periods can vary. Personnel and employment records must be kept for one year unless the employee is involuntarily terminated. Then, those records must be kept for one year after the termination date. Additionally, employers are required to maintain payroll records for 3 years.
  • Customer/Client Documents - depending on the type of information collected, you may want to keep secure copies of customer documents and shred others as needed to avoid personal information from getting into the wrong hands.
  • Business Corporation and LLC Documents - it is suggested to retain multiple copies of these types of documents and store them safely. They may include bylaws, shareholder information, annual reports, etc.
  • Branded Products or Materials - these can be items like apparel from samples or excess shipments that may contain proprietary information or deaccessioning/disposing of sensitive collectables. Shredding would help reduce the risk of unauthorized use.
  • Legal Contracts - you should always keep copies of any legal contracts you have as an individual and/or as a business.

It is important to understand all local, state, and federal laws for protecting patient, customer, or client personal information. If you are unsure of what to keep or what to shred, consult a tax or legal adviser.

During the retention periods, documents and records containing confidential information must be handled in a compliant manner, which includes how they're stored on site as well as the destruction method after the required retention period. You are responsible for these processes and ensuring that your client or patients' personal information is protected.

Partnering with the Experts at BWS for Your Records and Document Shredding Needs

Maintaining privacy and your company's reputation is important. That's why partnering with a professional who understands regulations and how to properly manage sensitive documents or items will help keep you legally compliant. It will also give you peace of mind knowing your patients' or clients' personal information is handled securely.

Biomedical Waste Services, Inc. (BWS) has over 45 years experience safely collecting, transporting, and disposing of sensitive waste such as patient records and client documentation for a variety of industries in the mid-Atlantic area, including Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. We are a proud member of the Healthcare Waste Institute, a nationally recognized agency centered around responsible healthcare waste management practices. We are committed to providing our customers with secure, reliable recording shredding management services they can count on to keep them compliant and protect their patient's confidential information.

At BWS, we are a zero-waste facility. Once shredded and destroyed, records and documents we dispose of for our customers are bailed and then sent off to be recycled.

If you generate medical or regulated waste at your facility too, you will also benefit from the same service technician collecting your medical waste and shredding waste, so all sensitive waste streams are consolidated with one company. Call or contact us today to partner with an experienced, professional records shredding management company.


U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - Recordkeeping Requirements

Legalzoom - Business Documents: What to Keep and What to Shred

IRS - How Long Should I Keep Records?

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