As a business you have responsibilities. One of those is to your clients and their sensitive data – which is anything from their name and address to bank or card details and more.
Under the Data Protection Act, it is very clear that steps are required to stop this information falling into the wrong hands. At the heart of these protections is document shredding but what options are there for your business? And how does it solve your problems?
Let’s start with a quick overview of why document shredding is so important and why many companies are happy to use a shredding company to handle it to ensure it is done properly.
1. Prevents identity theft
Figures from last year show that identity theft hit a record high of over 174,000 incidents with the majority of them happening online. This is a 125% increase in a ten year period. This includes a wide range of problems including online shopping and insurance frauds, those telephone scams we have all encountered and more.
However, one long-standing way that identity thieves get their information is from the rubbish of a business. Here they find paperwork that should have been shredded and that contains information that allows them to steal the identity. And in this situation, the business is in trouble for allowing it to happen.
2. Ensure customers are protected
By shredding paperwork, this removes the risk and ensures your customers are protected. We have all seen reports on TV where a company has let someone get their customer’s data and the loss of trust and reputation is huge. By having data protection policies and firm document shredding processes in place, this won’t be you.
3. Protect your employees
While there is a responsibility to protect customer data, there is also one to look after the data of employees. This includes personal data, health information, employment data and more. Anything the company holds on an employee must be protected in the same way as customer information and this means having processes to safely store and destroy documents.
4. Save space
This isn’t as big a consideration as the others but is worth mentioning – documents take up a lot of room but by shredding them when they are no longer needed, you can save that space and reuse it for something else. Plus lots of paper can be a fire risk so reduce this problem by reducing the risk.
5. It’s the law
Finally, it is the law that you protect data held in the business and document shredding is a big part of ensuring you are compliant with these laws. There are also substantial fines that the Data Protection regulator can hand out if you are found to be breaking the rules, so it is in the best interest of the business to take care of this.
It is often a case of shred everything just to be safe but there are some things that need to be shredded regardless. Examples include:
· Photo IDs
· Bank statements
· Voided cheques
· Credit or debit card information
· Copies of sales receipts
· Anything with name, address, phone number or email on
· Employment records
· Tax returns
The next question then becomes how do you know what is the right system for you to use and ensure that all of these documents are shredded? There are two main options – onsite shredding and offsite shredding.
When your shredding consists of things like paper records and ID badges but also digital media, uniforms and even branded goods, then you want to have a shredding service that takes place on the premises. The process for onsite shredding is simple:
· A securely locked container is delivered to the business
· Anything to be shredded is put into the container
· When it is ready to be emptied, you call the shredding company
· A security vetted operative collects the confidential waste
· It is shredded onsite in a mobile shredding vehicle
· The resulting shredding is taken to a destruction centre
· A certificate of destruction is provided to the business
There are a few key points in this process that are worth examining in a little more detail and are important when you consider shredding companies and make a selection.
Secure vehicles are an important part of the process because this means no-one can gain access to the documents to be shredded or the resulting shredded paper. Look for a company that uses the government’s standard of security for this to ensure that you have the highest level.
Also, look for the capability of the vehicle – ideally around two tonnes per hour is a speedy service. A good service is also available 24 hours a day so you can choose a time for the service that fits in with the business needs.
As businesses become more aware of the part they play in the environment and climate change, it is also worth looking at the environmentally friendly credentials of any shredding company. For example, look for a company that minimizes waste and carbon production. All paper waste is recycled and often products that make other types of recycling easier are also available.
The other option in terms of having documents shredded is to work with a company that shreds all of the documents offsite. This comes with a guarantee of confidentiality and a simplicity of system that can make it ideal for many businesses.
In this system, lockable bins or bags are provided for use in the office. Anything that needs shredding is placed into these bins so that they are collected in one place and no-one can easily get access to them. When the shredding reaches a certain quantity, you then call your shredding company and they arrange a collection.
When the documents are collected, the company should be uniformed and using a BS7858 security-vetted operative. This operative will transfer all of the documents into the vehicle to ensure they are secure and take them to the destruction site. At the depot, the documents are then shredded, and a certificate of destruction is provided to comply with the latest EU standards and confirm all paperwork is safe.
Finally, shredded paper is then baled and sent to mills around the UK for recycling. All other materials are recycled where possible so there is minimal waste going to landfill.
When you use a reputable company, there’s no worry about whether either service complies with the regulations – you can be certain that it does. This means that the choice between offsite or onsite shredding is therefore about what works best for your business.
Onsite shredding is often considered slightly more secure when compared to offsite shredding because there is one less step between the collection of sensitive documents and the shredding. It is also ideal if the business handles a large volume of sensitive data and this means lots of paperwork needing frequent shredding – you can arrange a regular schedule with the shredding company to ensure the paper isn’t sitting around for very long.
Generally, there’s less handling involved with on-site shredding and it is a quick service. Vans can handle easily two tonnes of paper per hour so even businesses with a high volume of shredding required can estimate how often they need a shredding service based on this.
It is also something to tell customers – their paperwork and data never leave the premises in one piece. It is shredded on-site then taken to recycling plants in pieces so tiny that no thief will ever be able to use that information. This offers reassurance for customers and is something you can use in your sales process.
One of the biggest advantages of offsite shredding is that it is more cost effective. If you don’t have large volumes of paperwork to be shredded, then it can be better value for money to use an offsite system where the paperwork is shredded at the company’s depot rather than in the office.
This is also a good system if you don’t have the room to store volumes of shredding. You can arrange a frequent pickup to remove the documents to be shredded and the company can offer great prices as they will shred in bulk from a number of customers. And this means the resulting shredded paper is even more mixed up.
There is more handling in this system than onsite shredding but the guarantees in place from shredding companies offsets this risk and means that companies can still tell their customers they use an approved and secure system. Plus there’s that eco-friendly component of recycling the majority of waste to cut down on the company’s carbon footprint.
Regardless of whether you opt for onsite or offsite shredding services, the company that you choose should have security screened operatives. There are a couple of things to look for in this area to ensure the company is working to the highest standard:
· BS7858 security screening
· DBS checks
· ID presented when they arrive at the building
BS7858 is the security screening of individuals employed in a secure environment. This is a series of best practices recommendations for staff in jobs where there is the safety of people, goods or property that is key. Included within this are the handling of sensitive data, service contracts and confidential paperwork such as generated in most businesses.
The standard lays out what security screening processes that staff should go through before they are allowed to work in this kind of business. It covers everyone including contractors and subcontractors and includes information relating to both the Rehabilitation of Offenders and Data Protection Acts.
When you are organising shredding services for your business, it is worth remembering that there is more than just paper that will need confidential handling at some point. So a final aspect of the services offered by the shredding company to consider is the handling of these other shredding and safe destruction areas.
Hard drives are where all of the business data is held and when the time comes to upgrade or replace these, there needs to be careful handling of the old or obsolete ones.
While it might seem enough to simply take to the hard drive with a hammer, it is best to get a shredding company to handle the destruction. You can get both onsite and offsite services for hard drivers that includes removing them from protective casing and then shredding them with specialist shredding equipment. The remains are then disposed of in the most environmentally friendly way.
The final area to consider is product destruction. This handles anything from uniforms to business cards, product samples and ID cards, all of which could be used for nefarious means if they aren’t handled properly. It can allow people to misrepresent your business, gain access to property or falsify information.
Shredding of these different products can be done by the same company as your other types of shredding. It can involve anything from faulty goods to prototypes, clothing and counterfeit products. Look for companies that work with the likes of FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft) to destroy counterfeit goods – that way you know the standard of shredding involved is top class.
Shredding is a bit more complex than merely having a shredding machine in the office and trying to remember to pop all paperwork through it. And with the growing complexity of identity theft and other online fraud, businesses face tougher demands to ensure their data protection processes are solid. That’s why working with the right shredding company is very important to protect your customers, staff and your business against all kinds of fraud and illegal behaviour.
For more information about our shredding company, get in touch with us today.