Now that tax time is almost finished for another year, it’s important to securely destroy the tax information that doesn’t have to be kept on file anymore.
When this information is lost or stolen there is a risk of tax related identity theft and other crimes.
Tax identity theft occurs when someone uses a stolen social security or social insurance number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. An IRS report showed that last year the department identified 42,148 tax returns with $227 million claimed in fraudulent refunds. But new and better controls saved $180 million in fraudulent refunds.
Secure handling of personal data and tax records is critical in the workplace and at home, for both current documents and those in storage. When information comes to the end of its life, it is important to securely destroy it too. In fact, it may even be your company's legal obligation. While there are many shredding companies offering paper shredding services, here are important factors to consider so that you choose a reliable and trustworthy document destruction company:
- RANGE OF SERVICES: First and foremost, a professional shredding company must provide top quality destruction services. It should also provide on-going support around security including security audit services to identify vulnerable areas in the workplace.
- TAILORS SERVICES: A good document destruction company will tailor services to fit a company’s or individual’s specific requirements so it’s convenient, seamless, and stress-free. Regularly scheduled services are recommended.
- SECURE CHAIN OF CUSTODY: Make sure there is a secure chain of custody including security-vetted staff and secure handling from collection to destruction. Whether data is destroyed on- or off-site, there should be a Certificate of Destruction issued as proof of compliance.
- UNDERSTANDS COMPLIANCE: A good document destruction partner stays up-to-date on compliance requirements. Depending on where you live, tax-related information must be kept for 3 to 7 years.
- HANDLES PAPER AND DIGITAL: These days most businesses and individuals have confidential information in both paper and digital formats. As a result, it’s important to provide disposal services for paper documents and hard drives and e-media.
- INDUSTRIAL GRADE SHREDDING: Conventional in-house shredding machines typically strip-cut paper. But this can leave important information visible or open to reconstruction after shredding. A reputable data destruction service uses multi-edge cross-cut shredding technology. Cross-cut confetti-sized pieces cannot be reconstructed ensuring total destruction of confidential documents.
- IMPROVES PRODUCTIVITY: It takes an employee an estimated five hours on average to hand-feed 50 pounds or 23 kilograms worth of paper documents into an in-house shredder compared to just under a minute by a professional shredding organization. Using a dedicated service provider means employees can do their jobs - and be more productive.
- HELPS REDUCE MISTAKES: Research shows that at least 50% of the worst data breaches are caused by inadvertent mistakes. Having a shredding service – and implementing a Shred-it all Policy – reduces the risk of these kinds of mistakes. All documents are put into locked consoles for secure shredding.
At tax time and all year long, it’s important to follow best practices when it comes to data security.