Monday, July 18, 2005

Do I legally have to use a Paper Shredder?

It is possible that your business or industry is required to dispose of certain information and documents that safeguard customers, employees and citizens. The HIPAA is a Federal law in the United States and is now being enforced. It requires healthcare entities including, but not limited to health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and healthcare providers including hospitals and general practitioners to “protect the privacy of certain individually identifiable health information”. Basically, this act is stating that any Patient Health Information that contain medical information, medical history, social security numbers, ID numbers, credit card numbers, health insurance or any other personal information, must be made unreadable when discarded.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) affects all financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, securities brokers, real estate appraisers, insurance companies, automobile leasing companies, companies that operate travel agencies in connection with financial services, and any other entity that is “significantly involved in financial activities”. Those affected by this Act need to develop a comprehensive written information security plan and annually disclose to their customer base a detailed disclosure policy that explains how personal confidential information will be used and how they plan to safely discard of it.

Even if you are not legally required to dispose of documents it may be wise to prevent possible litigation from anyone whose private information you handle becomes accessible. The most convenient and effective way to do this is document shredding.

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