How many old files, records of customers, employees, suppliers and other information about a third party does your business hold? A hundred files, a thousand or maybe even tens of thousands?
Setting up for a fall
What do you do when those records are no longer required? Do you merely grab a handful of bin liners, fill them with the old files and simply throw them in the bin or skip? If you do, you could be setting yourself up for a fall. Did you know that the Data Protection Act (DPA) requires all businesses which hold records of third parties to keep formal records of how, when and where records are disposed.
If you do not have a system in place and cannot prove any of the above, you may be exposed to criminal proceedings in court. These proceedings can – and often do – end up with the company being fined. In extreme circumstances owners of businesses and relevant executive board members could be liable to a prison sentence.
Are you breaking the law?
According to an article on the website of the United Kingdom Secure Shredding Association (UKSSA) an alarming 80 to 85 percent of businesses operating in the UK seem blissfully unaware of the implications of the DPA. Those businesses are potentially breaking the law – are you one of them?
Don’t use the bin
It is no longer acceptable to dispose of printed data files by way of the round filing cabinet (rubbish bin) which sits forlornly by the side of a desk. In an era when identity theft was not an issue, disposing of personal data in this way was seen as an acceptable method of disposal. Not anymore.
While it is accepted that the data files which are held digitally (on computers, servers, laptops and memory sticks) have to be kept secure and disposed of securely, the act also covers paper records.
One way of ensuring that full compliance with the act is maintained is to employ the services of a company which offers a confidential shredding service, such as simplyshred.co.uk. It is not merely enough to say you have disposed of confidential waste securely – it is essential you have formal records of how, when and where and by whom.
A secure shredding service will cost a bit more than a few bin bags. The set up costs are not light but the subsequent running costs are not overly expensive pro rata.
However, compare these costs to potential fines, increased scrutiny and governance as well as the potential of a prison sentence and the costs kind of pale into insignificance.