Why Shred?

Document Shredding is one of the most important ways to protect yourself and your business from identity theft, corporate espionage or potentially embarrassing leaks of information from your business (e.g. client data, financial information, new product information, personnel files, salary levels, board papers, business plans etc.).

A commitment to shredding documents with confidential information is also an opportunity to promote your business as one that respects the privacy of clients, employees and suppliers. This can be an important selling point in any business that deals with personal and sensitive information.

1. To Comply with Privacy Amendment (Enhancement Privacy Protection) Act 2012

This Act has 13 Australian Privacy Principles or APPs that qualifying agencies and organisations must comply with. The APPs follow the lifecycle of personal information – collection, use and disclosure, quality, security, access, correction through to disposal.

APP11 requires entities to take reasonable steps to destroy or de-identify personal information if it is no longer needed for the purpose for which it was collected.

Documenting a company policy, training your employees, organising a regular pick up of locked security bins for shredding on site and keeping records via a Certificate of Destruction demonstrates that a business has taken ‘reasonable steps’ to comply with APP 11.

2. To Avoid Identity Theft

The ABS (2012) estimated that a total of 1.2 million Australians in 2010-11 were victims of personal fraud. This equates to a national victimisation rate for personal fraud of 6.7% of the population aged 15 years and over. This is an increase from the 806,000 victims of personal fraud in 2007 (5.0%). Australians lost $1.4 billion in 2010-11 due to personal fraud.

(Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012, Personal Fraud 2010-2011, Cat 4528.0, Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.)

Listen to this news report about the growing problem of identity theft

3. To Avoid Substantial Penalties

The Privacy Amendment (Enhancement Privacy Protection) Act 2012 carries penalties for serious non-compliance of up to $1.7 million for organisations and $340,000 for individuals.

4. To be Able to Continue to do Business with APP Entities

APP Entities are organisations with turnover greater than $3m or are involved in the health or credit industry dealing in personal or sensitive information. Each APP entity must have a Privacy Policy explaining how they will comply with the Privacy Act. Many APP Entities have already started to include a provision that they will only deal with other companies that also have a Privacy Policy in place. Directors/senior managers are responsible for personal information from the time it is created to destruction, and that includes any information that goes to another business.

So businesses of all sizes will need to have a documented Privacy Policy or at least written policies and procedures that protect the APP Entity they do business with from any possible breach.

5. To Save you Time and Money and Enable your Employees to Focus on what they are paid to do

Some companies choose to buy their own shredding machine. The majority of shredders require someone to first take the paper out of all folders and plastic sleeves, remove plastic dividers, staples, bulldog clips and paper clips.

There is also a limit to the number of pages that can be shredded at one time. Going over this limit can result in paper jams and lots of reversing to get the machine going again.

Of course, while your employee is doing all the above there is a risk that they are reading the confidential documents that are waiting to be shredded.

Do you really want your employees reading confidential information about your business e.g. personnel records, wage and bonus payments, financial and banking information, sales figures, marketing strategies, client records?

There are other things to consider as well:

  • Time it takes for an employee to do the paper shredding rather than what they are paid to do.
  • The cost of electricity.
  • Disposal of the shredded paper. It takes up a lot of room in a bin, can be a fire hazard and can blow everywhere if left outside in an unlocked bin.

Tips if you do get your own shredder:

  • Make sure it is a cross-cut shredder for greater security.
  • Make it compulsory for senior managers to shred the documents for their area, don’t let it be delegated to junior staff.

A Shred On Site mobile shredding truck can shred the contents of a 240L bin (6-7 document boxes) in around 2 minutes including folders, clips, plastic etc.

6. Protection from Corporate Espionage

Reduce the risk of your confidential business information falling into the hands of competitors. Make it compulsory in your business to shred all important documents like business plans, budgets, sales results, marketing plans etc.

Shred them before they leave your business premises – the future of your business may depend on it.

7. Client Expectations

The general public is more aware than ever before about the importance of protecting their personal information. They have an expectation that all businesses have systems and processes in place to manage all personal and sensitive information in a secure way. They also expect all information to be destroyed securely when the purpose for which it was collected has passed.

8. Employee Expectations

Employees also expect that all their confidential employment and health information is stored securely and destroyed when the use-by-date is reached.

Potential employees who have applied for a job at your business also expect their job applications and resumes to be disposed of in a safe and secure way.

9. What Happened to the Paperless Office?

According to industry figures we use just as much paper now as we ever did. People still print out emails, spreadsheet, PowerPoint presentations, invoices, proposals, quotes, customer information etc.

Paper diaries are still used, notebooks containing important information are kept in desks, and even post-it notes are still used to take down important phone messages.

There are many businesses that still require you to fill out application forms to become a new client. You still fill out order forms for a new product or service. What happens to all this information once it is then entered onto a database somewhere?

There is still a lot of paper created everyday with information which needs to be protected and destroyed in a secure manner.