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Avoid These 6 Common Information Disposal Mistakes

Mistakes happen, but when they involve your sensitive business information, the repercussions can be devastating for your business:

  • identity theft
  • business fraud
  • legal liability
  • non-compliance fines

Unfortunately, information disposal mistakes plague many organisations. Here we’ve listed the six most common mistakes to avoid:

1. Ignoring document retention schedules

Don’t make the mistake of holding onto your documents longer than necessary. Under the Data Protection Act, you’re legally required to destroy your documents after their retention period has expired. According to the law, “Personal data processed for any purpose or purposes shall not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose or purposes.” Failure to comply can result in criminal prosecution or monetary penalties of up to £500,000. Be sure to include destruction dates in your record retention schedules.

2. Negligent recycling

Paper recycling reduces waste and benefits the environment, but corporate recycling programs also create information security risks. Despite their good intentions, when employees make the mistake of recycling sensitive documents instead of destroying them, it leaves your client and employee data vulnerable to theft. Fortunately, a secure document destruction service offers a solution for destroying and recycling your information. Your paper files are destroyed beyond recognition and all shredded material is responsibly recycled.

3. Trusting an office paper shredder

Another common mistake is destroying your most confidential information with an office paper shredder. A paper shredding machine doesn’t sufficiently destroy confidential documents beyond recognition; it shreds paperwork into reconstructable strips. And when you shred it yourself, your shredded material lands in a rubbish or recycling bin where it can easily be stolen by a thief.

A professional paper shredding service eliminates the risk of destroying confidential documents with an office paper shredder. Secure, locked collection containers are delivered to your office and collected when filled. All collected material is then destroyed with industrial-grade equipment, rendering your information unidentifiable and impossible to reconstruct.

4. Pressing delete instead of physically destroying data

Never make the mistake of using “delete” as a data disposal method. Even after you erase data from a digital device, a footprint of that data is left behind that can be retrieved by criminals with the right knowledge. Instead, use a professional media destruction service to physically destroy redundant IT equipment and data storage devices such as:

  • data tapes
  • portable hard drives
  • mobile devices
  • computers and laptops

Once destroyed, a professional destruction service will shred your IT assets into tiny particles and dispose of all electronic waste in accordance with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive).

5. Forgetting about branded items

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your documents and data are the only things vulnerable to theft. Your company also has valuable branded property that thieves would love to get their hands on, which may include:

  • uniforms
  • marketing material
  • prototypes
  • promotional items

To prevent business fraud and intellectual property theft risks, these items should also be securely and completely destroyed. With a turnkey professional document destruction solution, any items that run the risk of being counterfeited and/or misused are destroyed alongside your paper and electronic records.

6. Failing to prove disposal

Your company has to prove it has destroyed information in accordance with The Data Protection Act, so don’t make the mistake of not documenting your disposal practices. A professional document shredding and information destruction provider issues a Certificate of Destruction each time your information is destroyed, so you always have legal proof of the time and date of disposal.

A single information disposal error can permanently damage your business, so take extra care to avoid the six common mistakes we’ve mentioned here.

Archive Document Data Storage (ADDS) provides information destruction solutions for businesses throughout London, Bristol, Bath, and Swindon. For more information, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.

Natasha Rawley The File Queen: Expert in Record & Information Management, LPM Columnist.

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