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What You Should Know About Document Purging Before You Shred

Monday, May 18th, 2020

Many businesses begin to think about document purging during the winter, especially around the beginning of a new year. This term refers to shredding large amounts of files and documents. Organizing your files and paperwork should be done throughout the year. It can make deciding what to keep and what to shred easier. Document purging helps to protect your staff, customers and clients, and business safe from criminals and violating the law. Having a plan in place, knowing what to shred, and knowing how to shred can make document purging easier.

Planning for yearly document destruction

The first step of this process is in your document retention schedule. You should review which files need to be destroyed based on a timeline. If you do not have a retention schedule, creating one is your best option for organized document destruction.

Next, consider involving everyone in your business in the document purge. Even employees who keep only a few records should be sure to take part in securing company and client information.

Once the first two steps are done, you can estimate how much shredding bin space you will need. If you already have these bins, be sure that you have enough. Working with a document destruction company can help you with this step.

Finally, you can let your staff know when the shredding will be done so they have plenty of time to go through files.

What files should be destroyed and when?

There are many types of files that you may have on record, so it can be confusing to know what to keep and when you can shred. For businesses, it is best to focus on some of the most important records. These include employee records, tax documents, interstate commerce documents, receipts, and property documents. The following are some guidelines for tax and business related documents that are based on specific periods. Remember, you can ask experts like attorneys and accountants to be sure you are keeping and purging the right records.

Records to keep for three years

Records that should be stored for three years include budgets, transportation mileage books, canceled checks, and expense reports. Bank slips, medical bills, sale invoices, and employee records (for three years after termination) should also be included in this category.

Records to store for six to seven years

Because the IRS may go back six years when doing an audit, it is important to keep certain documents for this time period. The time starts either when a return is filed or when it is due, whichever is later. Contracts after expiration, bank statements, employee payroll records, bank loan documents (after they have been paid off), and insurance records should all be stored. Accounts payable and receivable ledgers, payroll tax information, and property records are also included in this list.

Permanent records

Businesses should keep these records indefinitely, which means they should not be included in your document purge. Permanent records could include and are not limited to:

  • Canceled checks
  • Tax returns
  • Trademark registrations
  • Pension and retirement documents
  • Trust documents
  • IRS audit reports
  • Company minutes
  • Corporate stock records

“Unclassifiable” documents

Some records cannot be put into categories because of specific circumstances. Retention periods vary on these documents. Credit card receipts, car records, warranties, sales receipts, pay stubs, and insurance policies are all included. It may be best to speak with an attorney or financial consultant about your business records to be sure you do not shred what needs to be stored.

Tips for document purging

Knowing what to shred and when to shred is vital to this process. Here are some other helpful tips to keep you organized and on track.

  • If you work with a shredding company, keep your Certificate of Destruction from every time you shred. These should be considered permanent records.
  • Make sure all employees know your shredding policies and how they protect your business and clients.
  • Have an organized filing or document storage system.
  • Don’t forget about electronic records. Hard drives can and should be destroyed based on paper record retention schedules too.

Hiring a company to help with your document purge

When if is time to shred documents, you may find that doing this in-house is not efficient. This is because small shredders can only handle a limited amount of shredding and the process will take away valuable work time. You may also not be shredding the documents securely and may not have anywhere to take the material when you are done.

A professional shredding company can handle your document purge securely and efficiently. They are equipped with heavy-duty shredding machines and can even come to your business to shred on-site. These companies can provide locked bins for your regular shredding and destroy documents throughout the year as well.

When looking for a document destruction company, be sure to find one that will work with your specific needs. They should provide you with only the bins you need, as well as monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly shredding schedules. The company should always give you a Certificate of Destruction.

Document destruction in Amarillo

If you need help with your yearly document purge, contact UCI Shredding today. We offer secure, cost effective, and environmentally friendly on-site document shredding Solutions, including media and hard drive destruction. Call us at (806) 372-7722 or Send Us an email to see how we can help you and your business.