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Why You Simply "MUST" Shred Papers
Have you ever heard the term "dumpster diving"? It is a term used by private investigators or freelancers for getting into a garbage dumpster and going through documents to find out information on companies or individuals. Seems pretty disgusting to the average person, but people are paid well for the information that you throw away.
Shredding: A Vital Necessity
According to the National Association for Information Destruction's website (naidonline.org) "all businesses have occasion to discard confidential data." They go on to talk of various pitfalls of not handling sensitive information properly. This includes the possibility of important company, employee, or client information falling into the wrong hands where it could be misused. Who can be held responsible? You!
The Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act legislates very high standards on the health care industry to safeguard the privacy of a patient's Protected Health Information. HIPAA basically regulates the disclosure of all information that can be connected to a particular person, except for certain incidental disclosures such as calling a name in a waiting room. The Act provides for civil and criminal penalties depending on the circumstances of the disclosure. This means that sign-in sheets, prescription book copies, payment records, etc. must be secured or destroyed properly.
Any business that has personal information on a client or employee has a responsibility to to treat that information with the respect for privacy that it deserves. Some states have enacted legislation that provides for civil and criminal penalties for mishandling such information. Any prudent business person understands that there is a risk of liability for being careless with other peoples' personal information. The best way to safeguard yourself from such liability claims is to have a firm policy in place to govern the management of such information and, in the case of paper documents, an easy way to dispose of that information properly.
The Economic Espionage Act of 1996 provides some pretty severe penalties for those that would try to steal your proprietary information and trade secrets. There is one caveat for you though, you must have taken reasonable steps to protect the secrecy of the information in the first place. Is your trade secret outside in the dumpster?
Financial Modernization Act of 1999
Also known as the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act, this piece of legislation is to the financial industry what HIPAA is to the medical industry. It also provides civil and criminal penalties for the mishandling of a client's personal information by a financial institution, as described in the Act.