Advice Planning & Strategy

Why You Should Destroy Personal Documents

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At some point in their career, every business owner should learn why they must destroy personal, work-related documents—whether they belong to you (the business owner) or your employees. Understanding the importance of document destruction will help you avoid significant damage since loose documents can lead to identity theft, lawsuits, clutter, inefficiencies, fires, and more.

What Must Go

There are personal documents ascribed to you alone that obviously should never be thrown away. Things like your own birth certificate and social security card should remain in your files forever. But, as a business leader, you must be a safeguard for your employee’s documentation as well.

Throughout their stay at your company, your employees will trust you to record and keep information like their social security numbers, bank account numbers, I-9 forms, medical records, and emergency contact information. By law, you are required to destroy an employee’s personnel file four years after termination.

Protect Identity

The primary reason why you should destroy personal documents is to protect the identity of your employees. Millions of people and billions of dollars become the targets of identity thieves every year. For many of these criminals, the best way to a person’s identity is through their bank statements and other pieces of personal documentation. To make sure your employees are not a target of identity theft, guard their documents when you need them, and then destroy them when you do not.

Reduce Clutter

While minimizing the threat of identity theft is the most important reason to destroy documents, there are also ancillary benefits to shredding unneeded papers. Many of the documents you should destroy are the sorts that pile up the back room of an office. Personnel files, old I-9 forms, medical records—it can be too easy to drop these on a pile and forget they exist.

But those bad habits will lead to a cluttered workspace and, ultimately, a cluttered mind. To avoid an overwhelming mountain of paper, destroy unnecessary documents regularly. This can be a Herculean task, one that might benefit from the help of a product destruction service. Such services also benefit the environment in numerous ways, which is a plus for every modern business.

Avoid Fire Hazards

When you allow too many papers to clutter your office, you are providing fuel for a potentially devastating fire. It is a terrible hazard to leave personal documents lying around—not just for your company, but also for the people who live and work in your vicinity. For your safety and the safety of others, please be responsible and shred unnecessary documents.

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