Why Holding on to Business Documents Too Long is a Liability

Why We Hang on to Documents

Closeup photo of paper documents in an archive boxIt seems odd that people would hang on to things longer than necessary. Maybe you know someone that does this, or that “someone” is you. There are lots of reasons we choose to hang on to things, such as:

  1. Lack of permission. We don’t feel we have the authority to dispose of it.
  2. Lack of direction. We’re not sure when, how, or where to get rid of it.
  3. Out of sight, out of mind. It’s not in the way, so why worry about it?
  4. I or someone else may need it “someday.” A common reason for hoarding.
  5. Sentimentality. The very reason why belongings are kept despite their low intrinsic value.
  6. Feeling overwhelmed. There’s so much to deal with you don’t know where to start or how you will get it done.
  7. Waiting for the right time. Not now, but someday.

Why We Shouldn’t Hang on to Documents

All of these excuses can apply to business documents, too. Fortunately, most of them are overruled by state and federal privacy laws and records management best practices. Let’s look at why holding on to documents too long creates liability for your business:

  1. Security

Every moment a document is kept beyond its required retention period poses a risk of that information being stolen, lost, or seen by unauthorized individuals. Documents often contain some kind of personally identifiable information (PII), protected health information (PHI), or confidential business information that is your responsibility to protect from the time it is created to the time it is destroyed. Once that information is destroyed, the risk of a data breach is eliminated.

  1. Compliance

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) require all generators of PII and PHI to carefully protect documents during their lifecycle and properly shred documents at the end of that lifecycle, known as its retention date. It’s illegal to hold information beyond its retention date.

  1. Administration

Storing unnecessary documents is expensive. It increases the need for valuable storage space and makes it more challenging to find and re-file active documents. By scheduling a purge shredding service for your expired records, you can increase administrative productivity.

  1. Legal Exposure

If your company is ever drawn into legal action, all documents are discoverable and may be used as evidence in the proceedings. Nothing can be destroyed, even if the documents have exceeded their retention date. Shredding expired documents on time can legally protect your organization.

Legal Compliance

Every type of document in each state has its own retention periods and laws. For those who think they can or must hang on to records indefinitely, be aware that state and federal laws require that certain types of documents be destroyed after a specified period of time. No matter how attached you may feel to the documents, or concerned about destroying them, in many cases you have a legal obligation to do so.

Have your documents professionally shredded at the end of their lifecycle and keep your company compliant with data privacy laws and your confidential corporate, client, and employee information protected.

Pacific Shredding is NAID AAA Certified, which means that our shredding procedures are held to the highest standards by an independent third party so you get the peace of mind that comes with having your information securely shredded.

We proudly serve businesses and residents in California’s Central Valley, so if your business is located in Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto, Fresno, or in Napa or Solano counties, simply give us a call at 800-685-9034 or complete the form on this page. Our experts are standing by to create the perfect shredding solution for you!

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