Close up image of a pile of shredded paper documents in front of a paper shredder.
Businesses must deal with a lot of documents and must always keep a healthy balance between documents they retain and the documents they shred. This isn’t only determined by the business, in fact, there are laws that define the period documents should be kept and destroyed. The legal term for this is the “document retention period” and every document has one, whether short or eternal.
It’s crucial to handle documents in a legal-compliant manner because:
It is required by law.
It serves as proof that you are following the law if necessary.
Protects your company’s reputation
It’s not a good idea to preserve company documents forever just to be safe and minimize risk. Documents should be retained just for as long as they are required by law. By keeping unused and inactive documents for too long, you risk:
exposing personally identifiable information (PII) to unauthorized persons
making it more difficult to discover active files among the clutter of superfluous files
wasting valuable—and expensive—office space
A retention period guarantees that information is kept for as long as it is needed without jeopardizing its privacy and that it is shredded or destroyed when it is no longer useful or becomes a burden.
We’ve all met someone who enjoys getting rid of their things or decluttering everything. One of them might actually be you. When it comes to business documents, though, such a merciless approach toward clutter might be useful. You risk the following if you destroy papers prematurely.
Loss of critical knowledge for future management choices
Putting yourself at risk of fines if the information is required for legal reasons
Endangering customers by destroying records such as medical or legal papers before they are needed.
Following the correct retention period guarantees that a document may be properly destroyed once its legal life has passed, as well as providing confidence to your firm that you are no longer accountable.
Retention Periods According to Document Types
Presumably, you are now sitting there wondering to yourself “so which documents do I shred, which ones do I keep?”
Here are some of the documents that shouldn’t ever be destroyed:
Essential Records like health records, pensions, school documents, retirement funds should be preserved for the duration of one’s life.
Wills should not be destroyed in order to guarantee that the deceased’s wishes are carried out and that their possessions are dispersed according to their wishes.
Birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce documents, passports, military records, social security cards, and now COVID vaccination cards are all necessary for establishing identification.
Besides the documents should be kept indefinitely, most records have a fixed retention term. It can be quite a difficult task to keep track of these retention standards because each state, along with the federal government have their own retention criteria. It’s also best practice to consult state and federal government websites to find out how long your company’s documents must be kept.
NAID AAA Certified Destruction Company
Following record retention regulations must be a priority in addition to running your business, managing your team, and servicing your clients. Working with a NAID AAA Certified Shredding Company will alleviate the worry of monitoring those retention periods and guarantee that your papers are shredded and burned in the most secure manner possible. Get in touch with PROSHRED today and book your document shredding service and save your company from retention-related legal issues.