Medical facilities, financial institutions and businesses of all sizes have confidential information that needs to be securely destroyed.
There are a number of ways you can destroy your confidential information including recycling, using an office shredder or hiring a shredding company to do everything for you. Let’s take a look at each option.
Option #1: Recycling
Now we can all agree that from an environmental standpoint it’s important to recycle. But when it comes to recycling confidential information in the form of paper documents, there’s a big difference between recycling and secure recycling.
You see many recycling companies DON’T shred confidential information. They bring your discarded documents back to their facility where they hand-sort these documents to separate out the white paper, because white paper has the highest recycling value.
The unskilled workers hired by recycling companies to sift through your confidential documents are NOT required to submit to criminal background checks or random drug testing. And let’s face facts. An employee with a drug problem or a criminal record is far more likely to steal your confidential information for personal gain.
After the recycling company hand-sorts your discarded documents, they are stored for days, weeks or even months, until there is a large enough quantity to sell. Your un-shredded confidential documents, still intact, are then baled and shipped overseas, where they may be stored again for even longer periods until they are finally used to make new products.
Now here’s something you might not know. When you give documents to a recycling company you relinquish ALL RIGHTS to the information contained on those confidential documents. So if they are not shredded and this information falls into the wrong hands, YOUR organization will be held liable. That’s why it’s best to avoid recycling companies and chose an information destruction option where you…SHRED FIRST and then recycle.
If you follow our “Shred First” advice you can use an office shredder to shred everything by hand or hire a shredding service.
Option #2: Office Shredder
Using an office shredder is certainly better than not shredding at all, but it doesn’t compare favorably to choosing a shredding company in a number of key areas.
An office shredder is far less secure because most office shredders use a cross-cut or ribbon cut method to shred paper. So when these strips of paper are discarded or recycled, “dumpster divers” can sort through the trash and reconstruct these paper strips. This gives them easy access to confidential information you thought was destroyed.
In fact this form of information fraud is so common, now there’s software available via the internet, to help these thieves scan and reconstruct shredded documents. However, an even bigger information security threat from office shredders stems from the way most organizations treat the do-it-yourself shredding process.
When employees handle their own document shredding, some consider security and some do not. But even the most security-conscientious employees can leave stacks of confidential documents on their desks or next to the shredder, when they get too busy to shred them in a timely manner. And this exposes vital information that can be accessed by a number of high-risk groups including, disgruntled employees, temps, minimum wage employees, deliverymen and guests.
Office shredders can also leave your organization vulnerable in audits and lawsuits. The reason is because in-house shredding programs don’t adhere to a regular shredding schedule and they usually don’t provide any documentation of what’s been shredded, when it’s been shredded or by whom.
In an audit or a lawsuit when a question arises as to why some documents were shredded and why others were not, organizations without documentation will be deemed to exhibit “irregular shredding practices” and they will suffer the consequences.
Now if using office shredders are less secure than hiring a shredding service and office shredders can leave you vulnerable in audits and lawsuits. Then why do organizations still use them? The answer is simple. There is still a perception that it costs less to use an office shredder than it does to use a shredding service. And if that’s what your organization thinks, then what I’m about to say may surprise you. Not only are office shredders MORE expensive to operate, they can actually cost twice as much as a monthly shredding service.
Option #3: Hiring a Shredding Company
When you consider information security, protection in audits and lawsuits and overall cost, using a shredding service is clearly better than using an office shredder. But if you plan on hiring a shredding company for an on-going service, you should know that there are two types of shredding services…off-site and on site.
These services are similar in some respects because your everyday confidential documents are deposited in locked bins by your employees and then picked up at your location by a uniformed shredding company driver. Bins are usually provided free of charge and on-going service is scheduled at regular intervals including weekly, every two weeks or every four weeks. And of course almost all shredding companies recycle your shredded paper regardless of which type of shredding service they offer.
But here’s how these two shredding services differ. In off-site shredding (which is also called “plant-based” shredding) confidential documents from each customer on the driver’s route are secured in locked containers and placed on the truck. At the end of the day, the driver brings the truck, with all the locked security containers back to the shredding company’s facility. There while surveillance cameras monitor and record the entire process, all your materials are shredded into small, unreadable pieces.
What you may not know is that off-site shredding companies also make a lot of money by recycling your discarded paper. In order to get top dollar from the recycling companies, off-site shredding companies must first separate your white documents (like copy paper and stationery) from your colored documents (such as yellow legal paper and file folders). So if you choose an off-site shredding company you can be sure that their employees will hand sort all your confidential documents, allowing unwanted access to your confidential information.
This process can expose your customers to identity theft and fraud and expose your organization to severe fines, bad publicity and lost business. If you are willing to sacrifice information security to save a little money, off-site shredding may be right for your organization.
On-site shredding offers the highest level of information security. As the name implies on-site shredding means that all confidential materials are shredded on-site at your location.
The hydraulic lift of an on-site shredding truck raises a filled container and your confidential information is shredded in a matter of minutes. And because the process is automated, the driver never touches your confidential documents.
Many of the newer high-tech on-site shredding trucks have a camera and video monitor which allows you to view the entire shredding process. That way you can be 100% sure that ALL your confidential documents have been shredded.
On-site shredding can cost slightly more than off-site shredding, but if you want to ensure the highest level of information security for your organization at a rate that is still about half the cost of using your office shredder, choose an on-site shredding company like ShredQuick that has been rated “AAA Certified” by the National Association for Information Destruction.