Most offices have a records retention schedule that determines how long the office has to keep client or patient records. At the end of the retention time, the office may shred the files if the clients or patients do not want them. Personnel should use proper procedures for document destruction of those documents and files that have an expired retention time. For example, the law requires many law offices to retain client files for at least seven years. At the end of seven years, the office may destroy the files if the client does not want them.
What is a Retention and Disposal Schedule?
A retention and disposal schedule is a timeline for disposing of certain documents. A retention schedule date is a date the office closes the file or a specific amount of time, depending on the office. The schedule also includes a reminder date for staff to contact the client or patient. During the contact, the office notifies the client or patient that it is time to destroy the file and offers the client a copy. Law offices often keep client files until seven years after the case closes. A retention schedule helps the staff determine which files may be removed from records retention and destroyed.
A complete retention schedule includes the name of the file, the date the office closed the file or when the last activity was on the file, and the business’s retention policies for paper and digital files. Once a file reaches its date, office personnel should place the file in a locked shred box to keep it safe from prying eyes. Carolina Shred picks up the locked shred boxes pursuant to the office’s schedule and shreds the documents once they are full or at a scheduled date.
Document Scanning vs. Document Shredding
When you scan a document, you make a digital copy of the document. It’s always a good idea to keep the paper document for the amount of time your office’s retention policies call for. Should a hard drive fail or something happens to the computer, there’s a good possibility that the document you scanned could be destroyed.
However, if your office practices document scanning, it must still employ document shredding. Once a file or document reaches its destruction age, and the office decides to destroy it, the office must destroy the file or document in a safe manner. Additionally, once a hard drive or other digital media fails, is upgraded or is no longer needed, the office should shred them. Wiping the digital media with software does not entirely get rid of the data. Destroying digital media by smashing it does not guarantee that it won’t be accessible. The only way to be absolutely sure that no one is able to get the data off any digital media is to shred it.
Contact Carolina Shred
Shredding personal and confidential information, whether on paper documents or scanned on hard drives or other digital media is the only way to ensure that the documents are destroyed in such a manner that they cannot be accessed or put back together. Contact Carolina Shred to discuss your shredding requirements, set up a schedule for a first visit and create a document pickup schedule. We will bring you lock boxes to keep your expired files in.