Your organization must comply with laws and regulations, requiring that it protect certain information when it is discarded.
An increasing number of laws actually require organizations to shred or face steep fines.
At the federal level, FACTA (Credit Report Info), HIPAA (healthcare) and Gramm-Leach-Bliley (financial) require specific physical safeguards, such as shredding, to meet compliance. Stiff penalties could result!
Whether your customers are consumers concerned about Identity Theft and Privacy, or companies concerned with protecting trade information, you are entrusted with information that they consider to be extremely confidential.
In fact, whether you know it or not, you have an “implied contract” to protect that information simply based on the fact that you are collecting the data to conduct business. They have the legal right to expect you to take every precaution to protect it, including shredding it before it is discarded.
Your Public Image
Dumpster Diving has become Investigative Journalism 101. With all the privacy compliance laws, it is the first place reporters look when trying to grab a quick headline.
Privacy is the newest consumer awareness issue. Confidential information in your dumpster is an easy source for sensational headlines.
Employees (past and present) have a legal right to have their personal information protected by shredding before it is discarded.
Insurance records, employment applications, time cards, health records, accident reports and attendance records are examples of information that legally must be protected.
In this day and age, it is very important that your organization exhibits the highest ethical standards.
Casually discarding company information, whether in the form of an individual’s personal information, or company trade information, shows a callous disregard for customer and shareholder welfare. It exposes customers to the threat of Identity Theft and other fraud. It also risks your company losing its trade secret protections in court.
Your Trade Information Rights
The courts have demonstrated many times that they will not recognize trade information protections if a company doesn’t take every step to protect the information themselves. Casual disposal of information has been the basis for courts to deny trade information rights, which otherwise would have been enforceable.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that you forfeit the right of ownership to discarded information.
* The information found here is for general discussion purposes only and should not be used to determine responsibility or requirements of compliance.