While this is the digital age, some documents need to be created, stored, and used physically. Even if you have tried to reduce the use of paper personally or in your office to save trees, money and reduce clutter, it is still a good idea to learn how to protect the documents you have to have. The good news is, with paper documents, there are ways to secure them. Learning a secure way to send files, handle files, and use files will benefit your business and ensure you don’t compromise sensitive information. Keep reading to learn what these tips are.
Scan and Digitize Your Documents
In some situations, going digital is best. Scanning your documents and replacing the originals is great. However, even if you still need to keep the original, by scanning it and storing the file online, you have peace of mind that you have a backup if something happens to your hard copy. There have been countless natural disasters that have destroyed important papers. In most situations, the digitized versions remained safe and sound. Also, today at some point, it will be necessary for you to transfer some of these documents electronically. For most people, the process of scanning and sending is more convenient and faster than having to fax or mail a copy to someone.
Dispose of Old or Unneeded Documents the Right Way
While it is necessary for you to protect your documents while they are on-site, nefarious individuals may also gather documents and personal information after you have thrown certain papers away. Because of this, there are some states where you must black out any personal information before disposing of a document. Even though this method can be effective, most experts agree that shredding is best. This will ensure that the document thrown out is unusable.
Consider Using Off-Site Storage
Do you have records that you have to keep because they have not expired? This includes things like tax documents and related financial records in most areas. Are these records needed, but not something you look at daily, weekly, or monthly? If so, now may be a good time to start looking into off-site storage options for your documents. You can find businesses that specialize in offsite records storage, which is great because they ensure the documents are in an environment where they will not be damaged. If you choose a traditional storage facility, especially one that is not climate controlled, your documents may experience mold growth, exposure to bugs, and more. All this can be avoided by finding the right off-site storage location.
Create and Follow Security Protocols
When it comes to protecting your paper documents, you have to take steps to ensure they are protected from theft and from anyone’s “peering eyes.” To help minimize this type of risk, you should restrict who has access to certain documents. This may make them off-limits to some employees or to everyone besides you. When using filing cabinets, be sure they are sturdy and that they come with a lock feature. Ensure that documents that include sensitive information are put away as soon as you are done with them. Never leave them out on your desk or in your car. Also, it is a good idea to avoid taking these documents home, as they may get lost or land in the wrong hands. If you are extremely serious about the security of your documents, consider investing in cameras. This will help you monitor what is going on in the most sensitive areas where your paper documents are stored.
Create a Retention Plan for Your Records and Documents
Make sure you have steps in place to ensure that your sensitive documents are not ever tossed aside carelessly. Also, be sure they are stored in a safe and secure location. Some of the documents that need to be protected include tax info, personal info, business contacts, contracts, employee data, and more. All these should be labeled as “important documents.” With this label, you should also have a specific place for them to go and be stored. As mentioned above, there is a length of time to keep certain documents. Once this time has passed, you should dispose of them (safely as described above) to ensure they do not clutter the space or wind up in the wrong hands.
Keeping Your Documents Safe
If you want to protect the documents that your business uses and relies on, keep the tips and information mentioned above in mind. By taking these steps, you can feel confident that your documents are not going to wind up in the wrong hands and that they are going to be available if you ever need them. The peace of mind that proper document protection offers can help ensure you don’t face issues down the road.