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When you have built up a tiny startup into a small business, you might find that there are many different rules that you need to follow regarding proper administration. One of the most important of these is if you have documents that you don’t require any more. Some businesses don’t realise that these documents need to be carefully destroyed usually via shredding if they are not needed.

Plenty of information exists online regarding the legalities of document shredding – so don’t panic. If you are looking to conduct some research, document services specialist Images Online have a wealth of resources on what to do, and potentially – what can go wrong if you fail to shred the correct files on a regular basis. Check out their website if you are unsure, and/or would like to learn more… or for starters, follow our five top reasons we think you need to shred your documents:

  1. You need to follow the law

Firstly, and most crucially, failing to safely destroy documents is actually against the law. The Data Protection Act states that you must only hold onto confidential documents for as long as you need them. So if you currently have documents around the office that you do not technically need, you are in breach of the act.

If you are found to have committed an offense your business could potentially be fined up to £500,000 by the Information Commissioners Office. So you really need to make sure that you are working within the law and shred the documents if it is necessary to do so.

  1. Keep the data of clients and customers safe

You may have heard of the GDPR – the General Data Protection Regulation. This is an EU regulation that requires businesses to take greater care of the data of their clients and customers. Due to the recent spate of hacking attacks against businesses that have resulted in customer data being stolen, the GDPR has been created to force companies to take a more proactive approach to their security.

One key element of this is ensure that records are adequately stored or destroyed as necessary, and this includes paper copies. Of course it also goes without saying that if you do lose a customer’s data you would not only be in breach of the GDPR but also lose their trust in your business.

  1. Ensure the data of your staff is safe

It should also be noted that it is not just the data of your customers that you need to worry about. If you hold paper copies of the details of members of your team, you need to make sure that you not only store them safely and securely, but also that you follow the shredding rule of getting rid of documents that are no longer needed.

This can apply to past members of staff whose information you do not need to hold onto. Crucially, failing to do so can still land you in trouble with the Data Protection Act so it is important that you should shred any former staff member details as soon as possible after they have left the business.

  1. Save space in your office

Remember that shredding documents is important for more than just the legal issues involved – it can also be a huge administrative nightmare to have too many old documents that you no longer need. Additionally, getting rid of documents regularly means that you don’t need to have any large storage cabinets taking up space unnecessarily.

In a time where office space is at a premium it really doesn’t make any sense at all to hold onto paper copies of documents that you never use anymore. If this is the case for you, spend a day sorting through the files and shredding anything that you don’t need anymore.

  1. Protect yourself from identity theft

Remember that if your business stores your sensitive details and they fall into the wrong hands, you can have your identity stolen. Businesses typically hold many of the key facts about someone’s life and with that data, a criminal can steal your identity and cause you a huge range of problems. It is extremely simple to prevent this risk from ever becoming a reality – simply shred the document you do not need as soon as you can. There is no reason to put yourself at risk by failing to do this.

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