Whilst most organisations are familiar with the importance of retaining files and documents for as long as legally required, far fewer are aware of the potential consequences of storing or destroying confidential records without due care.
Failure to ensure the secure destruction of confidential documents containing personal information can result in significant fines or even prosecution for businesses who fall foul of the rules, with substantial legislation enshrining the right of the individual to an expectation of data confidentiality at all times right up to and including disposal.
James Lewis, our Commercial Director at Ecogen, offers the following advice to businesses on their duty of care when it comes to the destruction of confidential documents.
James says: The Data Protection Act affects virtually all businesses, with failure to conform potentially resulting in a fine of up to 500,000.
Without strict procedures in place, it's surprisingly easy for any organisation to make an unwitting mistake, so it's essential to ensure you are fully aware of your responsibilities when storing or managing confidential data – not only on your customers, but also your employees.
The bottom line is, if you retain documents containing sensitive information, such as addresses, bank details or medical information, it is your duty of care to ensure that this data is stored securely all the time it needs to be kept, and destroyed responsibly when it is no longer required.
So, what constitutes responsible destruction of confidential documents?
The answer certainly isnt landfill.
James says: The safest way to destroy paper documents containing confidential information is shredding, and for large organisations where there may be greater quantities of paperwork, this requires the help of a professional.
If you're looking for a company to undertake this for you, make sure they are approved by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and will provide you with certificates of destruction on completion.
With the stakes for non-conformance being so high, it's not worth taking any chances.
Ecogen offers a Confidential Document Destruction service that includes the removal and destruction of office papers and highly sensitive, confidential materials.
For more information on document shredding and the destruction of confidential documents, please call us for a quote on: 01753 364370