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Use Care when Disposing of your “Spring Cleaning” Documents

Last week we discussed which documents to keep and what you can toss. Having decided what items to purge, your next decision is how to dispose of them. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does any government agency regulate the disposal of these records?
  • Is the information sensitive? Some information becomes less sensitive with age, some does not.
  • How could the information be exploited by unauthorized users and what would the impact of unauthorized access be?

Remember that stealing trash is not a crime! Just throwing out files is not a good method of disposal for anything remotely sensitive. Shredding is a good choice, but if you do this yourself be sure to use a cross-cut shredder as it’s possible to tape shredded strips back together.

Incineration is another possibility (although you may hear from the EPA regarding pollution guidelines!), but the process must be supervised to ensure the documents are completely destroyed.

Electronic documents may not be as much of an eyesore as paper, but if they’re not managed they can also impede your efficiency. The same guidelines for retaining paper documents apply to electronic documents and you must be just as cautious when disposing of them.

Deleting documents isn’t always an option (read-only discs can’t be deleted, and deleted documents on your hard drive can be recovered), but sometimes erasing the documents is possible. Also, a commercial shredding company can be helpful when it comes to disposing of CD’s, floppy discs, and tapes.

Again, the bottom line goal is ensuring potentially sensitive information never gets into the wrong hands. If you’re dealing with specific concerns or situations you’d like to discuss, Email or call us at 904-396-5400 as we’re happy to help.

We hope you’ve found the discussion of the past two weeks useful…so when you’re ready to start creating those new stacks of documents for next tax season, you’ll have plenty of room!

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