If you’ve ever strolled through the paper shredder department of a large office supply store, you’ve probably marveled at the vast number of machines on display. How can so many manufacturers make so many models of something that performs what appears to be a rather generic task: destroying paper documents?
This guide is a brief overview of why so many types of shredders exist, what type of machine your business may need, and whether or not it makes sense for you to outsource paper shredding to a professional “information destruction” company.
The types of business documents and media you should destroy, and why.
Here is a partial list of documents you should destroy. (Note: This list refers to the types of information that should be fully destroyed, not merely thrown away. It is not related to when you should do so. See note at the bottom of this guide related to how long you should keep records.
Tax forms and tax-related documents
Employee health information, pay schedules, recruiting documents, time sheets and I-9 forms
Personnel files of former employees
Bills and invoices
Paid off and returned promissory notes and other financial documents and statements
Strategic planning documents
Monthly bills which might contain your full account number
If your business is in or near a metropolitan area, it is likely there are several companies that provide shredding services (known professionally as “information destruction”). Some will come to your business and pick up the documents to shred while others will actually shred the documents at your business. Still others, including large office supply retailers and certain FedEx and UPS Store locations, provide drop-off shredding services.
As drop off or pick up services require a high degree of trust in the provider, ask around among other small business for recommendations and references. A local or state consumer protection agency or the Better Business Bureau may be a good place to check to see if there have been complaints about a local shredding service you are considering.