The All Points Blog

29 October 2014

Keeping Files Past Their Usefulness Is Risky Business

Did you know that keeping old files and data past their useful life is a significant liability for you and your business? Data goes from being an asset to a liability once it is kept past its required retention time period. You can click here to learn more about applicable retention periods.

Keeping old files can invite an IRS agent, identity thief, compliance auditor, or attorney, known for suing small businesses, to start a review or audit for something “interesting.” Old documents, office files, contracts, order forms, and customer files can be used in tax audits, lawsuits, and compliance reviews for as long as you still possess them – even if you could have legally destroyed them years and years ago. Other risks of retaining records past their useful life include exposing competitive information or trade secrets to competitors.

The best practice is to dispose of old information. Time passes and beauty withers. What was once valuable and useful is now dead. Shredding the information on-site is the safest and most efficient way to dispose of this data.
While the news is filled with reports of “digital identity theft”, all the major ID Theft watch-dogs still report that the majority of cases involving identity theft happen from old fashioned paper theft and dumpster diving because it is so easy to do and does not require any special technical skill.

Most businesses today waste a lot of time looking for documents. And then there is the huge cost to store data. The cost is increased when you factor in the time it takes for employees to look for the stored data. It is reported that 10-25% of employees work life is spent “looking for stuff.” This wasted time costs businesses a significant amount of time and money and can be reduced by shredding useless data.

Other advantages to the timely destruction of data is that you can:

  • Prevent your competitors from “dumpster diving” their way to compromising data about your business
  • Free-up desperately needed office space and reduce the amount to “unused” space you are paying to rent, heat, cool, and insure
  • Reduce or eliminate off-site document storage fees and unproductive travel and fees
  • Improve employee morale by altering your document shredding policy and procedures by freeing up their time
  • Safeguard against the likelihood that the “wrong” employees see the “wrong documents” and create jealousy, resentment, or envy in the workplace
  • Make it so easy to destroy sensitive documents that all of your employees “comply” instead of “sneaking” them into the trash can
  • Increase productivity by shredding your documents in a more efficient and effective way

Data is being created constantly. It is estimated that in 10 years, there will be 44 times the data that exists today. This problem will only grow but it can be ameliorated by following document retention schedules and by having a document shredding policy in place for data that has reached its useful life.

Dawn Connelly, Esq., Owner All Points Mobile Shredding, a NAID AAA Certified Company