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The Risks of Storing Documents In-House

May 15, 2019

Risk assessment, decision to accept business result in uncertainty, unpredictable situation concept, cube wooden block with alphabet building the word RISK.Businesses rely on paper records to support their administrative needs and legal requirements. Many organizations store them wherever they can find space, including boxes, closets, shelves, drawers, file cabinets, etc. But these storage options come with a host of problems. In this blog, we discuss the risks of storing documents in-house.

Security

If you’re not careful, paper documents can fall into the wrong hands. A thief breaking into your office isn’t the only risk. Insider theft of hard copy records is one of the leading causes of physical security breaches. The best way to prevent external and internal security threats to paper documents is with a secure, offsite storage solution.

A records storage service offers unrivaled protection and preservation for both active and archival business records. Your documents are stored in a records center equipped with advanced surveillance technology. Background-screened and uniformed records management professionals follow a strict chain of custody when managing your documents. An advanced barcode system tracks your records inventory throughout the retention lifecycle. Your documents are picked up and delivered with GPS-tracked, alarmed, auto-locking vehicles.

Disaster Exposure

Paper documents are susceptible to damage from water, fire, and natural disasters. In-house storage increases exposure to these risks. Companies often store archival record inventories in flood-prone areas, under sprinklers, or near electrical outlets and equipment. A records center is built with concrete floors, walls and ceilings able to withstand extreme weather and natural disasters. Flammable materials are prohibited in a records center, and your documents are stored on specialized racking systems designed for their long-term preservation.

Non-Compliance

The following regulations determine document storage requirements for businesses:

  • Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX)
  • The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA)
  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)
  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

Without an in-house compliance expert, your company risks non-compliance penalties and fines. Partnering with a records storage provider helps you navigate a complex regulatory landscape and comply with state and federal laws.

Increased Overhead Costs

Rising office lease rates and labor costs make in-house document storage expenses unsustainable. Fortunately, your documents can be stored and professionally managed far more cost-effectively in a records center. For a flat fee, you receive a comprehensive document storage and records management solution.

Lost Productivity

In-house document storage often leads to file mismanagement. Most small businesses don’t have the budget to invest in an expensive document management system. A records management provider keeps your documents organized and accessible. Your retention data is added to a records management database, and an integrated web-based application offers authorized end users 24/7 online access to records with the ability to schedule pickups and deliveries of documents any time.

If you’re storing your documents in-house, consider outsourcing your storage to qualified professionals.

DeVries Business Services proudly serves businesses in Spokane, Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. For more information about professional records management, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.

What Your Employees Need to Know about Data Privacy

April 16, 2019

professional pretty female office worker wearing headset talking with customer and typing data into online system to solve cyber security problem.What do your employees understand about data privacy? Are they putting your customers, vendors or even themselves at risk? In this blog, we discuss key data privacy factors your employees need to know.

Data Privacy Is the Law

Several federal well-known federal laws mandate how companies must store, send, and dispose of personally identifiable information (PII) and protected health information (PHI), including:

  • HIPAA
  • FACTA
  • FERPA
  • GLBA

Failure to comply with these regulations may result in fines and/or penalties, so your employees need to the know the requirements of each law that applies to your organization. Regular training sessions can help your staff stay abreast of privacy compliance regulations.

Data Stored on Electronic Devices is Vulnerable

Data stolen from corporate hard drives, tapes, laptops, and mobile devices fetches top dollar on the black market. As a result, it’s important for employees to maintain a chain of custody for devices issued to them and understand the ramifications if those devices leave their possession. Outdated or unusable devices should never be thrown in the trash or recycled without physical destruction. A media destruction service allows for secure data disposal across your organization. Your unwanted digital devices are professionally destroyed, and you receive a Certificate of Destruction.

Passwords Can Be Broken

Weak password security still poses big problems for small businesses. Easy-to-remember passwords are the most vulnerable to hacking, so your employees should use passwords that combine letters, numbers, and non-alphanumeric characters. A password management application can generate strong, encrypted passwords that are impossible to crack.

Communication is Key

Solid communication is the cornerstone to an effective data privacy plan. As an employer, you’re responsible for talking to your employees about data privacy risks. In turn, your employees are responsible for promptly reporting suspicious emails, links, and attachments to their supervisor. The longer your people take to report threats, the greater the potential for widespread damage.

Nothing Posted on Social Media Is Private

Your employees should use discretion when posting to personal and corporate social media platforms. Every Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and most other social media posts are discoverable. Cybercriminals scour personal and corporate social media posts for morsels of published information that disclose confidential or proprietary information that can be used for social engineering attacks. Having a social media policy can help define security standards and codes of conduct that reduce privacy risks from expanding to full blown attacks.

For more data protection tips, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.

DeVries Business Services proudly serves businesses in Spokane, Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.

5 Document Disposal Mistakes to Avoid

March 7, 2019

Avoid Mistake words in 3d letters and a green arrow over the word to illustrate preventing a problem, error, difficulty or inaccuracyAs a business owner, privacy protection falls squarely on your shoulders. If sensitive information is stolen and compromised on your watch, you and your company can face serious legal and financial repercussions. Here are five document disposal mistakes you should avoid at all costs:

1. Ignoring Final Disposition Dates

Keeping documents longer than necessary is a mistake, but so is getting rid of them too soon. Always verify a document’s retention timeframe before disposing of it. If your organization doesn’t have a formal records retention policy, seek the services of an attorney, accountant, or certified records management professional.

2. Using Office Shredders

You can toss a document into a trash can faster than you can shred it. Office shredders are slow and prone to paper jams.If you want to minimize privacy breach risks in your business, document disposal must be quick, easy, and secure.

A paper shredding service makes it easy for your employees to discard confidential documents. Secure collection containers are delivered to your office free of charge. A variety of styles and sizes are offered to match your office décor and document disposal volume. No matter which size or style you choose, collection containers allow your employees to discard sensitive documents securely and without having to remove staples, sticky notes, and paperclips.

3. Recycling without Shredding

Never discard documents with personally identifiable information (PII) in a recycling bin. Helping the planet is important, but so is protecting customer and employee privacy. A shredding service offers a solution for destroying paper documents and recycling shredded waste.

4. Ignoring Privacy Law Requirements

Several federal laws mandate how companies must dispose of confidential patient, client, and employee information, including:

  • HIPAA
  • FACTA
  • FERPA
  • GLBA

Failure to comply with these regulations may result in fines and/or penalties. Know each law’s requirement about the disposal of PII and protected health information (PHI).

5. Not Partnering with a NAID AAA Certified Shredding Company

Anyone can buy a shred truck and shred documents, but not every shredding provider is NAID AAA Certified. NAID stands for the National Association of Information Destruction, the non-profit, standards-setting authority for the information destruction industry. A NAID AAA Certified paper shredding company must meet the highest industry standards for the destruction of paper records. In order to achieve NAID AAA Certification, a shredding company must pass unannounced, ongoing audits that assess many aspects of their operation, including:

  • Employee screening processes
  • Insurance requirements
  • Written security policies and procedures
  • Certified proof of shredding processes

Partner with a NAID AAA Certified shredding company to make sure you documents are collected, handled, and destroyed with unparalleled security and ethics.

DeVries Business Services proudly provides NAID AAA Certified paper shredding services and information management services to businesses in Spokane, Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.

5 Tips for Choosing a Scanning Service Provider

February 14, 2019

The phrase Five Things You Should Know written in white chalk on a blackboard as a reminder to prepare and set prioritiesAre you considering going paperless? Choosing a scanning services provider can be stressful. Not every scanning company meets the criteria you deserve. In this blog, we offer five helpful tips for choosing a scanning services provider.

1. Verify Experience and Ability

Document scanning requires more than technology; experience and ability are just as important. You don’t want a fly-by-night company handling your sensitive documents. Look for a reputable provider who has long-term experience serving businesses in your community.

2. Demand Security

Your information deserves a strict chain of custody to keep it secure. Only well-trained, background-checked, uniformed and badged professionals should handle, transport and scan your documents. The scanning facility should be equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance systems and secure loading and unloading areas that allow for discreet delivery of documents to and from the scanning facility. If you visit the scanning facility, you should be required to show identification and sign a confidentiality agreement before being permitted escorted access.

3. Make Sure Prep is Included

If your paper records aren’t properly prepared and organized, they can’t be scanned. Staples and paperclips must be removed from documents. Torn and dog-eared pages need to be repaired. Multi-page files must be placed in the proper order. Although time consuming and laborious, these steps are necessary for accurately converting your hard copy records to digital files.

Make sure your scanning provider can handle this process so you can focus on other important tasks. Besides making sure your documents can be scanned, scanning technicians also create a verifiable record of which box each individual page came from and bar code each file so it can be linked to a digital database.

4. Ask for References

If you’re considering a scanning solution for your accounting firm, you need a provider who has a proven track record of working with other accounting firms. That’s why it important to talk to a prospective provider’s clients. Use your network to find out if other local businesses have used their services. Don’t be reluctant to ask for references.

5. Ensure a Post-Scanning Solution

You may need your original paper records destroyed or stored after the scanning project is completed. Verify whether your scanning service provider offers records storage or NAID AAA Certified paper shredding. That way, you can achieve an end-to-end, single-source solution for your information.

For more tips on choosing a scanning services provider, please call us or complete the form on this page.

DeVries Business Services proudly serves businesses in Spokane, Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.

5 Important Questions to Ask a Records Storage Provider

January 16, 2019

wooden-question-marksIn today’s fast-paced and competitive business environment, it’s important to have the right information at the right time. A records storage service offers a cost-effective and secure solution for ensuring seamless access to—and protection for—your documents. But not all records storage providers are equal, especially when it comes to security, expertise and professionalism. So, when selecting a records storage provider, we suggest that you ask the following five questions:

1. How long have you been in business?

You don’t want a fly-by-night company handling your sensitive files and documents; you want a provider with longstanding experience serving companies like yours. Find out when your records storage provider opened its doors, ask them to provide client references, and contact those references.

2. Are you locally owned?

When you buy from an independent, locally-owned business rather than a national or regional business, significantly more of your money stays in the community and is used to make purchases from other local businesses and service providers. Partnering with a locally-owned records storage provider strengthens the economic base of your community.

3. How are my documents protected?

Identity theft and business fraud are big problems, and paper documents are just as susceptible as electronic data. It’s important to verify where and how your documents will be stored. A records center should be solidly constructed with concrete floors, walls and ceilings, and able to withstand extreme weather and natural disasters. Only background-screened and uniformed records management professionals should be allowed inside. Verify whether your provider’s record center is protected with the following equipment:

  • Climate control systems
  • Fire detection and prevention technology
  • Security cameras

Your records should be picked up and delivered using strict chain of custody procedures, in GPS-tracked, alarmed and auto-locking vehicles.

4. How are my records tracked?

You deserve to know what you’re storing with your records storage provider, how much space you’re using, and when your documents are scheduled for destruction. Only partner with a records storage company that uses cutting-edge records technology to track and manage your documents and support your information management needs.

5. When can I access my storage inventory?

Storing your documents off-site doesn’t mean you have to give up easy access to them. You should be able to request your documents 24/7/365 through a secure online portal and have them hand delivered to your office or sent electronically by Scan on Demand that same day.

A records storage service can save your business time and money. To choose the right provider, ask the five crucial questions we’ve shared here. DeVries Business Services proudly serves businesses in Spokane, Eastern Washington, and Northern Idaho.

Security Tips for National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month

December 11, 2018

The holiday season is in full swing, which means more purchases for consumers and more sales for retailers. It’s also the time of year when small businesses and shoppers are most at risk of identity theft and fraud, so it’s no surprise December is National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month. Here are our tips to help you keep your business and personal information safe.

Assess Your Risk Exposure

According to data security experts, every business will be breached eventually. Your risk exposure is especially high during the holiday season, so you have to be proactive. A breach reporting and readiness service can help you assess and reduce the risk of data breaches. Data protection experts monitor and audit data breach threats for you, train your staff on privacy protection practices, and implement breach notification protocols for your company.

Update and Backup

As the volume of transactions increases during the holiday season, protecting customer data becomes more difficult. Unpatched systems and computers offer a gateway to hackers and cybercriminals. As a result, it’s important to stay on top of updates and check for holes in your network. Install software security patches as soon as they’re released, make regular backups of your data, and invest in an offsite tape/media storage solution.

Destroy Your Paper Documents

In a world where cybercrimes are prevalent, ignoring low-tech information security threats is common. But thieves still rummage through residential trash bins and corporate dumpsters looking for carelessly-discarded confidential documents. Always shred the following records when they’ve reached the end of their retention period:

Partner with a NAID AAA Certified shredding company to make sure these documents are destroyed securely and efficiently. Your shredding partner can implement a scheduled shredding solution at work and a residential shredding solution at home to prevent your personal, medical and financial data from being compromised.

Educate Your Customers

Phishing scams are everywhere during the holiday season. A cybercriminal could pose as a representative of your company to send an unsuspecting customer a malicious link. Now is the time to remind your clients you will never ask for passwords or other sensitive information via email, phone or text. Always use caution and check with the source before taking any action.

Whether you’re a consumer or business owner, don’t let identity theft ruin your holiday cheer.

For more identity theft and business fraud prevention tips, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.

DeVries Business Services proudly serves businesses in Spokane, Eastern Washington, and Northern Idaho.

5 Questions to Ask a Data Services Provider

November 15, 2018

businessman thinking with question marks written on adhesive notes stuck to a brick wallPart of running a successful business is making sure your information and the medium it’s stored on is secure. So, finding a dependable data services provider is a must. In this blog, we offer five critical questions to ask a data services provider.


1. Is my media stored in a climate-controlled facility?

Excessive heat/cold, moisture/dryness, dust and dirt particles can damage or destroy your storage media. The key to preserving your media—and ultimately, your data—is to store and transport it in optimal atmospheric conditions. Choose a data service provider with a climate-controlled media storage facility and a transport process designed to safeguard your data from physical damage as well as theft.

2. Who has access to my critical data?

Stringent security standards should be applied to protect your data from unauthorized access. Assess your data service provider’s employee screening practices. Each person handling and transporting your data should be background checked, professionally trained, and required to sign a confidentiality agreement.

3. How do you manage my media?

Some data service providers only store your media, which means its management falls squarely on your shoulders. That’s a time-consuming and delicate responsibility. If you want to a comprehensive data protection and media management solution, ask whether your prospective provider offers the following value-added services:

  • Tracking of your storage media’s use and performance over time
  • Systematically adding new media and retiring old media
  • Assessing the condition of your critical data

4. Do you offer media destruction services?

When your media reaches the end of its useful life, it should be destroyed. Partner with a data services provider who can protect your media during retention and destroy it properly when it reaches it a final disposition date.

5. Can you help me with other privacy services?

Not every data service provider can help your business reduce the risk of a data breach, and even fewer can help your business in the event of an actual or suspected breach. You want a data service provider that reduces your risk and in case a breach does happen, takes the hassle out of reporting the loss of personally identifiable information (PII) to an ever-increasing number of authorities. If you want to reduce your breach exposure and comply with state and federal privacy regulations, select a data service provider who assesses your risk profile and provides the resources your organization needs to stay compliant.

For more tips on choosing a trustworthy data services provider, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.

DeVries Business Services proudly serves businesses in Spokane, Eastern Washington, and Northern Idaho.

PRISM Privacy+ Certification: Why It’s Important

October 19, 2018

Choosing a records management provider isn’t easy. You need security, dependability, and experience. Sometimes, the choice between two qualified records management companies comes down to one deciding factor: Privacy+ Certification In this blog, we highlight several ways working with a Privacy+ Certification records management provider benefits your business.

What is Privacy+ Certification?

Privacy+ Certification is administered by Professional Records and Information Services Management (PRISM) International, a trade association for commercial information management companies. PRISM awards Privacy+ Certification only to companies that meet or exceed the highest standards for information protection. A third-party auditor assesses Privacy+ Certified companies internal privacy controls every two years to verify ongoing compliance with PRISM’s Privacy+ Certification program.

Businessman use Laptop with interface of padlock and cloud computing technology, Cyber Security Data Protection Business Technology Privacy concept, Internet Concept of global business.Oversight and Accountability

Records management providers are supposed to help businesses protect confidential records and data, but not all records management companies have the organizational processes, structure, and capability to ensure information protection. Privacy+ Certification is awarded to records management providers who follow organizational structures with clearly-defined employee roles and responsibilities. They must demonstrate strong managerial oversight of their staff to ensure information management and privacy protection measures are verifiable and measurable. This ensures their clients’ records and data are handled, transported, stored, and destroyed securely.

Security

Big and small businesses are increasingly under threat from identity theft and fraud scams. When you entrust your records to a third party, you need unwavering assurance that the confidentiality of your information is upheld. By partnering with a Privacy+ Certified records management company, you know your information is protected from unauthorized access. A Privacy+ Certified records management provider invests in people, places, and systems that safeguard your records, including:

  • Secure records centers
  • GPS-tracked and alarmed delivery vehicles
  • Background-checked, HIPAA compliance-trained employees
  • Documented chain of custody procedures
  • Advanced document management and barcode tracking software

Each of these “controls” is audited by an independent third party as part of an overall risk management assessment.

Regulatory Compliance

If your company must comply with global privacy regulations, you want a records management provider who does, too. A Privacy+ Certified records management company complies with the following global regulations:

If you want a records management provider who doesn’t just store barcoded boxes on shelves but is globally recognized for meeting a higher standard, choose a Privacy+ Certified records management company.

DeVries Business Services is the first records management firm in Washington state to be awarded PRISM Privacy+ Certification.

We proudly serve businesses in Spokane, Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.

Ask These Questions before a Scanning Project

August 16, 2018

Question mark heap on table concept for confusion, question or solutionWhether it’s hiring new staff or buying new equipment, each business decision-making process deserves serious forethought. Considering whether to scan your documents is no different. Before undertaking a scanning project, we suggest that you ask yourself the following questions:

Q: Do I have the technology needed to scan my documents?

Desktop scanners are effective for scanning one document at a time, but not so great for scanning hundreds or thousands of files. For medium to large scanning projects, you would need a high-speed scanner costing thousands of dollars. Rather than scanning your documents in-house, it’s often more cost-effective to partner with a scanning company that uses its own scanning equipment and imaging technology.

Q: Where will I store my images?

A scanning project shouldn’t start before considering where to store your digital images. Will you need a central storage repository where multiple employees can access data? Will your digital images integrate with an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system? Or do you need the flexibility of having your scanned documents on a portable hard drive? Make sure your digital images will merge with your preferred storage solution before starting your scanning project.

Q: Will my digital images be accessed often?

There’s no sense in scanning every document, especially if it’s infrequently accessed or kept for less than five years. If you’re looking for a solution that addresses your document storage concerns, consider a Scan on Demand solution. Your documents are securely stored in a records center until they reach their final disposition date. During that time, when or if a document is needed, it’s scanned and sent to you digitally. 

Q: Do I plan to dispose of my hard copies after scanning?

It’s equally important to consider what happens to your documents after scanning. Do you need to keep original copies for compliance requirements, or can you dispose of them? If it’s the latter, hire a qualified NAID AAA Certified shredding and destruction provider who can ensure confidentiality during destruction.

Q: Who is overseeing my scanning project?

It’s important to consider who’s managing your scanning project. If it’s a company employee, remember scanning project priorities may detract from other core responsibilities. An outsourced scanning solution offers reliable oversight and quality control without compromising internal resources.

Q: Will my information stay confidential during scanning?

Most scanning projects involve imaging confidential and sensitive files, so it’s imperative to maintain confidentiality during scanning. Avoid hiring temporary workers for scanning projects. Instead, make sure the individuals sorting, indexing, and converting your documents are background-screened, bonded, and professionally trained.

Answering these questions will help you make your document scanning project a success!

DeVries Business Services proudly serves businesses in Spokane, Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.

Answers to Your Paper Shredding FAQs

July 25, 2018

Man Hand writing FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions with marker on transparent wipe board. Business, internet, technology concept.As identity theft rates rise, privacy protection awareness is at an all-time high. As a result, we receive questions about secure information disposal every day. In this blog, we answer the most frequently-asked paper shredding questions.

Q: What’s the difference between onsite and offsite shredding?

A: With onsite mobile shredding, a specialized shredding vehicle comes to your business and destroys your documents on premises while you watch. Offsite shredding offers the same unparalleled security with a slight difference: Your discarded documents are picked up from your business and transported in a secure, GPS-tracked vehicle to a shredding plant for destruction. The service you choose depends on your personal preference, compliance requirements, and budget. Both onsite and offsite shredding include a Certificate of Destruction for your records.

Q: Why should I choose a locally-owned shredding provider? 

A: Unlike a national or global paper shredding company, a locally-owned paper shredding provider offers unparalleled customer care and customized service. You have a direct line of communication to an account manager who understands your unique document destruction needs. A local paper shredding provider is committed to and invested in your community. They often partner with other local businesses and organizations on initiatives and events that benefit its residents.

Q: When are my documents shredded?  

A: With a one-time shredding service, your documents are shredded as needed. If you need your documents destroyed regularly, a scheduled shredding service gives you a routine solution. Your paper is collected and shredded weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.

Q: Am I legally required to shred?

A: Yes. Several well-known federal regulations, including HIPAA, FACTA, SOX, and GLB, require businesses to securely dispose of client, financial and protected health information. Failure to destroy records in compliance with these laws can result in stiff fines and penalties.

Q: Who shreds my documents?

A: It’s important to choose a paper shredding company that fully vets its staff. Choose a provider who screens their employees’ employment and criminal history and requires drug testing. Individuals who handle and destroy confidential information should have extensive HIPAA compliance training.

Q: What is NAID AAA Certification? 

A: NAID stands for the National Association of Information Destruction, the non-profit, standards-setting authority for the information destruction industry. A NAID AAA Certified paper shredding company must meet the highest industry standards for destruction of paper records. In order to achieve NAID AAA Certification, a shredding company must pass unannounced, ongoing audits that assess many aspects of their operation, including:

  • Employee screening processes
  • Insurance requirements
  • Written security policies and procedures
  • Certified proof of shredding processes

Using a NAID AAA Certified shredding provider ensures unrivaled privacy protection for your information.

Q: How does a shredding company recycle my paper?

A: It depends on the shredding company. Some shredding vendors ship shredded documents overseas for recycling, which puts your information at risk. Other shredding providers have a baling operation. After shredding, your documents are baled and the paper fiber is recycled regionally. This offers a more secure, environmentally-friendly paper recycling solution.

If you have a question we haven’t answered in this blog, please let us know. We promise we’ll answer it promptly!

DeVries Business Services proudly serves businesses in Spokane, Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.

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