Proper document disposal isn't a topic that most people devote much time to. However, following recommended protocols is a key security measure for both you, as an individual, and your business. Even partial information can be used by determined criminals to compromise consumers' identities and financial records, making document disposal a major concern for any business that handles consumer data.
With our team of experts, Alluvit has produced a set of articles designed to demystify the legal standards for paper shredding and explain the different forms that the process can take. As an informed consumer, you can accurately identify which services work best for your company and link up with the appropriate provider.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does paper shredding cost?
Typically you can estimate paper shredding costs by determining the number of equivalent copy paper boxes your documents would fill. Average price for paper shredding is $25-$30 per box.
If you have a tough time estimating your paper in this way, you can convert boxes to total weight to make things simpler. A single box typically holds 10 reams of paper, with each ream weighing 5 lbs. So in total each copy paper box is equal to 50 lbs. of paper. Even though traditional paper is called 20 lb. bond, an actual ream of copy paper only weighs 5 lbs. 20 lbs. is actually how much 500 sheets of paper weighs, which is the standard measurement.
Read our in-depth paper shredding cost article for more information.
Why is paper shredding an important security measure?
Every day individuals and businesses dispose of documents that contain personal information. Although you may think security isn't an issue, research shows that criminals intent on identity theft or fraud can use small fragments, compiled over time to gain access to your most sensitive information. Legally, once you throw something out it is no longer considered private property. Although this ruling was designed to help lawmakers gather evidence, it also makes it legal for potential criminals to search through your garbage for scraps of data.
Is paper shredding legally required?
Paper shredding is legally required for all businesses that handle personal client information. Depending on your industry and the types of information you collect, there are different standards of document destruction required by the federal government. Before contracting out document disposal, make sure you're meeting or exceeding the minimal guidelines to avoid legal complications.
Can I just use an in-office paper shredder?
You could potentially use an in-office paper shredder; although, that is likely not the most efficient method. Paper shredding services are often a more economically sound option due to the fact that you would normally have to pay a skilled employee to spend their valuable time shredding documents instead. Additionally, you should factor in the cost of the initial machine purchase as well as maintenance fees and inevitable replacement to reach an honest cost comparison.
What is a paper shredding service?
Paper shredding services take the job of appropriate document disposal out of your hands. If you elicit the aid of a paper shredding company, they will literally come to your front door and take all of your documents for disposal. Of course, due to the sensitivity of the information contained, it is important to find a certified service and perform an audit to ensure that all appropriate security measures are being taken.
What are the different kinds of paper shredding services?
There are two major types of paper shredding services on-site and off-site. On-site services are typically a little more expensive, charging $10 to $15 per document box,but they use a specialized truck to shred your documents in front of your eyes. Off-site services take your documents to a larger facility and dispose of them en masse. These services charge about 10% less per container, but there are added security risks that accompany this option due to the fact that the documents are usually transported to the facility and then stored for a number of days prior to destruction. Many off-site services take these risks into consideration and make security a priority, but you should perform an audit to make sure.
What should I spend on an in-office paper shredder?
Although you can easily pick up an in-office shredder for about $40, these models are not designed for regular use or highly sensitive information. Many of them are strip shredders, which allow documents to be easily pieced back together by a determined individual. A quality in-office shredder is more likely to start at $200, and many of the higher end models are listed in the thousands.
What should I expect to spend on a paper shredding service?
Paper shredding services charge by the container. Usually this is measured in document boxes, but some services use bins as their standard measure. On average, you should expect to spend between $10 and $15 a box for an on-site service. The cost is about 10% less per container when you use an off-site service. For hard drives and other electronics that contain important information, a shredding service will usually charge per item. On average, shredding services charge $1 per hard drive.
Are there ways to economize and use a paper shredding service?
Yes. If you don't produce a lot of documents but want to use a shredding service, then you can easily coordinate with surrounding offices to combine your shredding needs. It may take a few weeks to work out the kinks, but combining your shredding can save you money and increase security by allowing you to mix documents from different offices and industries, making it infinitely harder for a potential thief to piece documents back together.
How should I dispose of digital documents?
In the digital age, paper isn't the only potential source of sensitive information. You may think you have wiped that hard drive, but, in most cases, an electronically savvy criminal can easily recover a lot of the information stored there. If you're disposing of digital documentation, such as hard drives or old cell phones, then contact your shredding service and ask what they charge per item. Typically, you can expect a service to charge about $1 per hard drive, but keep in mind that not all services are capable of destroying these items.