There has been a significant shift in recent years from doing business on paper to a digital paperless business environment. This has undoubtedly reduced the amount of sensitive data and important information that business owners must store and protect in paper format. However, the transition to an entirely paperless business world still has a long way to go. That means that owning and operating a business still means generating, managing, storing, and protecting a veritable mountain of paper.
Until we achieve a true digital revolution, business owners will still require a safe, secure, and cost-effective method of handling the secure storage and destruction of the vast amounts of paper generated as part of their normal day-to-day business operations.
Document shredding and storage services remain among the best small business solutions available to manage the safe and secure disposal of sensitive and critical business documents. Let's look at some of the most pressing reasons why shredding documents is essential for your small business.
While identity theft and fraud have always been a pressing concern for business owners, the incidences of both have increased dramatically in recent years. There are a broad number of standard and some less common tactics that identity thieves and fraudsters use to get their hands on the data they need to assume the identity of their victims. Here are a few of the standard business-related documents that could allow criminals to access your business accounts or your staff accounts.
While it is important to keep tax documents on file for several years, you do not need to store them indefinitely. Because of the sensitive nature of the data contained within tax returns, and other tax reporting forms, you should regularly purge these documents to remove documents beyond the date required to be retained. In addition, you should securely shred these old tax documents to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.
Photo IDs are used to create employee access badges, and bad actors can use copies of photo IDs stored in employee HR files to create fraudulent IDs and profiles that are used to steal another's the identity or create a new identity. Prevent photo IDs from being misappropriated by regularly purging employee HR files and shredding the photo IDs of employees and staff who are no longer with the company.
Bank statements and accounting ledgers contain an immense amount of sensitive data that unauthorized individuals can easily use to access your business accounts and your customer's accounts. Therefore, you should regularly purge all financial data documents to remove any outdated documents. In addition, these documents must be securely shredded to prevent the sensitive data contained within from being used by bad actors.
Marking, writing, or stamping unused checks as "VOID" does not prevent them from being used by bad actors and identity thieves. The financial information on canceled or voided checks can easily be used to create fraudulent accounts or gain unauthorized access to your existing business and personal checking accounts.
Though there are steps that you, as a business owner, can take to limit the amount of sensitive customer data that is recorded and stored, it is nearly impossible to eliminate the need to retain customer information. Unfortunately, that means that as a regular part of doing business, your business is entrusted with the safe and secure management of a massive amount of your customer's significant financial and other sensitive data.
The best way to ensure that you are a responsible steward of your customer's sensitive data, all client records and customer databases should be regularly reviewed and purged to remove any unneeded, expired, or otherwise unessential information.
When possible, paper documents containing sensitive customer data should be scanned digitally. The paper documents should be shredded at a secure document shredding facility to ensure that your customer's vital information does not fall into the wrong hands.
From the outset of the hiring process, throughout the duration of an employee's tenure, the employee's file will contain an abundance of paper documents containing sensitive data. Much like the storage and management of customer data, significant advances have been made to reduce the amount of sensitive employee data stored in paper format. Unfortunately, there is no way to eliminate the need to store sensitive employee information.
To ensure maximum security and protection of essential employee records, all employee files and databases should be regularly reviewed. All expired documentation or unneeded records for employees no longer working for the company should be purged. When possible, documents containing sensitive employee data should be scanned or converted into a digital format, and all superfluous paper documents should be securely shredded using a third-party document shredding service to ensure that sensitive employee information is not inadvertently or purposefully viewed by unauthorized individuals, or bad actors.
You worked hard to create and grow your business. Your business exists because of your ideas, innovations, and ingenuity. But, how much of your company's valuable experience, knowledge, policies, procedures, formulas, and other proprietary data that helps give your business a leg up on the competition is contained in your stored documents? Unfortunately, the answer is more than you realize if your company is like most businesses.
You might be surprised to learn the amount of proprietary information, business secrets, and competitive information gleaned from internal and external business communications. Unfortunately, there are armies of bad actors whose sole focus is getting their hands on your valuable intellectual property and business secrets so that they can peddle them to the highest bidder or use them to compete against your company.
The surest way to protect your intellectual property from falling into the wrong hands either inadvertently or maliciously is to control the number of people who have access to the information in the first place by digitizing the documents and regularly purging any paper documents containing proprietary data and business secrets. In addition, all purged records should be securely destroyed using a third-party document shredding service to limit the chances that your valuable intellectual property will be viewed or used by unauthorized persons or fall into the hands of bad actors.
The rise in identity theft, fraud, counterfeiting, pirating, and other forms of criminal activity over the past decades has led to an ever-increasing number of rules, regulations, and laws designed to help protect consumers and businesses from suffering potential losses at the hands of bad actors. These regulations and laws impact your business in a big way. Therefore, your company must stay updated with the most current rules, regulations, and laws governing the storage, safe-guarding, and secure disposal of sensitive customer and employee data.
While it can be a daunting task to keep up with the ever-evolving scope of the fraud and identity theft crime and the sea of rules, regulations, and laws designed to combat them, you can take steps to significantly increase compliance and reduce your overall liability by reducing the amount of sensitive client. For example, your company manages and stores employee data, and all sensitive data is securely disposed of by an authorized, certified third-party document shredding service.
It is an unavoidable fact that real estate is expensive. Securing the physical space to open and operate your company is one of the most significant expenses that most business owners must grapple with. In addition, securely and safely storing paper business documents and records can quickly eat up valuable real estate.
With every square foot of real estate coming with a premium price tag, do you want to devote entire floors to storing paper documents? Could the space that you currently use to store boxes of paper documents and records be used for a more productive purpose?
If you have spent any length of time pondering either of these questions, you have likely already begun to realize the cost in real estate alone that your company is incurring by storing paper documents and records. You can dramatically reduce your company's physical footprint by eliminating the physical storage of paper documents and forms,
ALFA offers digital scanning services and document management software which will help you convert all of the data currently stored in paper documents and records into a digital format that is more secure and accessible by authorized employees and staff. Once your physical copies have been converted to a digital format, you no longer need to use up your valuable real estate storing the paper documents and records. Use our secure document shredding service to safely and securely dispose of the stored mountains of physical documents and records and reclaim the square footage for more productive use. Give yourself and your team the extra room to breathe and provide your business with the space it news to grow truly,
While we are freeing up real estate and giving you and your staff room to grow, we must talk about some of the health and safety risks associated with storing reams of paper and boxes of documents and records.
While it may not be one of your first thoughts or top concerns, the fact is that stored paper and cardboard boxes are a prime breeding ground for the sort of irritants and pests that cause a myriad of health problems for humans who are exposed to them regularly. For starters, paper and cardboard are massive dust collectors. Dust build-up is a significant trigger for sensitive people and can spark allergy and asthma attacks in those suffering from these conditions. Not only does this lead to discomfort, irritation, and illness for you and your employees, but it can also lead to increased sick days, a loss of productivity, and increased cost to your company.
In addition to the risk to human health posed by dust in dry environments, there are the additional and often more severe health risks posed by prolonged exposure to mold and mildew in damp environments. For example, suppose your business is in a hot, humid climate. In that case, storing paper documents in cardboard boxes for any length of time will likely lead to the accumulation of dangerous mold spores that can cause severe respiratory problems in even the healthiest of individuals. Worse still, prolonged exposure to mold and mildew has been shown to cause cognitive and memory problems, which can significantly take a significant toll on your employee's ability to perform at their best.
Physical ailments aside, there is also a well-documented link between a cluttered and cramped work environment and a marked decrease in mental and biological productivity. To put it in a nutshell, humans work best in a clean and tidy space free of clutter, where they can focus entirely on their tasks without feeling overwhelmed and stifled by mountains of stored documents and debris.
If all of that were not enough, the genuine fire risk is presented by storing boxes and boxes of highly flammable paperwork in one enclosed space. In addition, most fire and building safety codes require unique fire suppression systems to be installed throughout any area where you will be storing large quantities of combustible materials like paper and cardboard.
The risk to your and your employees' health and physical safety is a high price to pay for the storage of paper documents. However, by making a move to convert the data stored within your physical documents and records, regularly purging your paper documents to remove expired and non-essential records, and enlisting a third-party document shredding service to dispose of any excess paper documents securely, you can dramatically reduce the risk to you and your staff, and improve the overall well-being and safety of the work environment for everyone who enters.
There are a massive number of competing expenses and costs associated with owning and operating a small business. Document storage and disposal don't need to be one of them. You can drastically improve your company's bottom line by eliminating the costs attached to the secure storage of physical documents by implementing PrintAlfa's document management software and document scanning service to convert all of the data stored in your physical documents and records into a much more user-friendly digital format that can be stored on a secure central server, and accessed by an authorized employee, from anywhere in the world, with just a few clicks of the mouse.
ALFA document management software not only streamlines the document management, storage, and access process it also makes it more secure by allowing administrators to control, monitor, and track who has access to which files, when each file was last accessed, by whom, and what changes if any were made to the data contained in the file. This means that over time you can identify and eliminate inefficiencies in the workflow and improve your company's productivity in the long run.
When combined with ALFA's multi-function printers and copiers, ALFA document management software offers additional, immediate, and tangible cost savings by allowing administrators to automatically assign documents to print on the most appropriate and cost-effective printer the particular printing ask, preventing the use of more complex. Costly printers are being used for mundane, high-volume report printing tasks. It also allows administrators to monitor and identify printing inefficiencies and redundancies to conserve resources and shave even more off the company's bottom line.
Finally, ALFA document shredding services help you further improve your company's bottom line by eliminating the need to allocate valuable and pricey real estate square footage to storing physical documents and records. Additionally, secure document shredding helps reduce the cost associated with profit losses due to identity theft, fraud, theft of intellectual property, and other malicious criminal activity. It reduces the number of dollars allocated to implementing security measures to combat and protect against these threats.
ALFA is a full-service company offering a wide array of small business solutions designed to help you, the small business owner, operate your company the most efficiently and cost-effectively possible. The professional team at ALFA will work with you to provide the secure document management, document shredding, and storage services you need to concentrate your time and efforts on the important work of running your business and growing your company.