Any organization using paper files knows the importance of document shredding. Legally, here in Canada, organizations are required to securely dispose of their own and others’ documents eventually, and if the information is no longer useful to you, shredding is the simplest and most secure option. 

However, what documents should be shredded and when is crucially important. You’ll regret shredding a document too soon, as it will deprive you of important information. Worse, depending on the type of document, you may even open yourself up to suspicion and prosecution from the authorities. On the other hand, holding on to a document longer than you have to won’t cost you much per document, but can be a waste of space and money if your organization has more than a few hundred pages. 

As experts in record management, we wanted to help make it easier to figure out which of your documents to shred, so that your organization doesn’t run into any unfortunate difficulties. Before we can explain which documents to shred, though, we need to categorize the types of documents your organization (probably) interacts with on a regular basis. These are Business Documents, Transitory Records, and Personal Information

Business Documents

What counts as a business document?

In Canadian regulations, the term “Business Documents” or “Business Records” refers to any documents which pertain to the structure, activities, or history of your organization. So this includes any and all financial records, official memos and correspondence, meeting minutes, property deeds, contracts, and more. If one of your documents contains information about your organization or something your organization has done or will do, then you can safely assume it’s a business document. 

These documents are important to your operation, so shredding them too early is an obvious mistake to avoid. At some point, however, a document will no longer be relevant. Meeting minutes and old contracts aren’t very valuable once the topics and agreements they refer to have become old news. 

How long should you wait to shred a business document?

Even after a document is no longer relevant to your operation, you might still have to hold onto it. Federal regulation requires you to retain any and all business documents for a certain period of time (i.e. “retention periods”). The length of a retention period depends on three things: (1) the date the record was created or imported, (2) what kind of document it is, and, (3) the type of organization. 

In general, though, most retention periods are six years. When that six-year period begins, however, varies based on the factors listed previously. At most, the retention period might not begin until 364 days after the document was created. When it comes to deciding what documents should be shredded, the safest policy is to wait until after seven years have passed. 

There are some documents your organization should never shred, however. Any documents which are considered “business-historical records,” those that would have any effect on the sale, liquidation, or ending of your business, need to be retained until several years after it ends. So long as you are in business, these documents should never be shredded.

(For more details, check out our blog on records retention.)

Transitory Records

Although the category of “business documents” covers most of the files your organization will create or interact with, federal regulations do make a provision for documents in your possession which aren’t important enough to be worth keeping. These are termed “transitory records” and can be shredded or otherwise disposed of at your leisure. 

The only requirement for records to be deemed “transitory” is that they “have no value in documenting or supporting the organization’s business.” This definition is admittedly vague, so it’s better to err on the side of caution and avoid labelling any records as transitory unless you’re quite sure. If the CRA does an audit, you don’t want to find yourself disagreeing with them about whether a file should be considered transitory. Being able to get rid of a document sooner is not worth risking an audit, fines, or potentially even prosecution. 

Personal Information

Unlike business documents, personal information should be destroyed or disposed of as soon as is practical. Rather than possibly being penalized for destroying a record too early, you’re more likely to be penalized for waiting too long to destroy or dispose of personal information. 

What counts as personal information?

In the language of the regulations, “personal information” refers to any information which could be used to identify someone. The general principle for deciding when to dispose of personal information requires you to have a purpose for collecting it in the first place. Once that purpose has expired, you’re expected to get rid of the personal information, so long as there’s no other reason to keep it. 

For example, according to the principles of the legislation, a tailor shop collecting customers’ names and measurements should delete or destroy that information once the service has been provided. Unless, of course, a customer has explicitly requested that they retain it, so as to inform future services.

When should you shred personal information?

In order to maximize your chances of being found compliant with legislation, we recommend that you somehow record the purpose for each piece of personal information collected in concrete language. That way, it can serve as a guide for deciding when to dispose of the information, and as a reference for any audits. Manually recording this information for every piece of personal information may be prohibitively tedious depending on your business model, but a digitalized process allows this step to be automated. 

A notable exception to this broad policy is when personal information is used to make a decision about the subject of that information. When your organization makes such a decision, you need to retain the personal information, and the information about the decision, long enough for the person involved to access it. This gives them the ability to understand and potentially even challenge the decision. 

Personnel Records

At the intersection between personal information and business records, are personnel records. The information they contain can be used to identify individuals, and usually even includes sensitive details like their Social Insurance Number or banking information. But that information is also crucial to the operation of the business, so which category of document do these fall under? 

The answer is both. A document can be both personal information and a business record, so long as the personally identifying information it contains is important information to the organization. Your purpose for collecting your employees’ and members’ personal information involves their continued involvement in your operations. Thus, in line with the principles of privacy regulations and retention periods, once a person has left your organization, you’re expected to destroy or otherwise dispose of the personal information in your records, so long as the retention period has ended. 

Conclusion

Existing within the “Information Age,” means organizations need to process more information than ever before. Computers and high-speed internet access are now so commonplace that nearly every company, organization, and private citizen is functionally required to have them, or miss out on faster, cheaper, more efficient, and more flexible ways of doing business. Paper documents are increasingly becoming a thing of the past, given their many disadvantages, one of which is the requirement for them to be shredded at the end of their lifecycle. Shredding one or two documents a week is no big deal, but when that volume increases, secure shredding options can become costly. 

Consentia offers secure and reliable services to convert your paper documents into digital files, including scanning and data entry. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about shredding your digital documents, you can delete and overwrite them with ease. Consentia can even securely destroy your documents for you once they’ve been digitized!

Want to learn more about how digitizing your documents can improve your legal reliability, save you money, and make your information more secure? We also offer expert advice! Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you elevate your business.

Local Shredding Options

Even though we strongly recommend switching to digital, if you’ve got a lot of paper files to destroy, you’ll have to get rid of them eventually. Here are our top picks for document shredding in Edmonton.

  1. Shred-it – Consentia’s preferred shredding service.
  2. EnviroShred
  3. Iron Mountain
  4. Western Archives
  5. UPS
  6. Rip n Shred
  7. Best Shredding
  8. Shred Nations

 

  1. What’s the difference between scanning a document and taking a picture?
  2. What are the 4 types of scanning?
  3. What is the best way to scan documents?
  4. What is scanning of a document?
  5. Why is it important to keep personal information private?
  6. Why is information privacy important?
  7. What is information security and privacy?
  8. What is used to protect information privacy?
  9. What are the 3 purposes of records management?
  10. What are the principles of record management?
  11. What is the main purpose of record management?
  12. What record management means?
  13. What are the 4 categories of retained records?
  14. What is the retention policy?
  15. Why do we retain records?
  16. How long should records be kept?
  17. Where should I store documents in my house?
  18. What documents should you keep for seven years?
  19. How do you store personal papers?
  20. Where can I organize important documents?
  21. What are the 3 purposes of records management?
  22. What should the records management system include?
  23. 5 Key Considerations When Choosing a Document Management System
  24. What are 6 essential elements of an effective records management system?
  25. Why do companies shred documents?
  26. How do you destroy a large amount of documents?
  27. Can shredded documents be recovered?
  28. What does it mean to shred a document?
  29. Where can I scan papers for free?
  30. How to Scan Documents With Android
  31. Which scan is best for documents?
  32. What are the advantages of imaging records?
  33. What is document imaging in healthcare?
  34. Why should document imaging be used?
  35. What is meant by document imaging?
  36. How much does paper shredding cost?
  37. What do I need to do to prepare my documents for destruction?
  38. What are the benefits of Records Management?
  39. Why is Records Management important?
  40. Why is Records Management important for organizations?

What’s the difference between scanning a document and taking a picture?

Overall, the image quality is superior on the scanner. Zoom in on a camera photo and the same page captured with a scanner and see which holds up better. Cameras do a great job at portraits & scenery, but not documents or photos of photos.


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What are the 4 types of scanning?

The information will include; cost, and how its used The four common scanner types are: Flatbed, Sheet-fed, Handheld, and Drum scanners.


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What is the best way to scan documents?

Best Ways to Digitize Paper Documents

  1. Multi-Function-Devices. Multi-function devices or MFD can produce high-quality documents. …
  2. Scanner. This option is user-friendly but rather tedious. …
  3. Scanning Apps. This is a suitable option for scanning small quantities of paper documents. …
  4. Document scanning services.

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What is scanning of a document?

Document scanning is the process of capturing paper documents and converting them to a digital format via a document scanner or multi-function printer. Document scanning is also commonly referred to as document conversion or document imaging.


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Why is it important to keep personal information private?

You need to be careful with how much personal information you reveal online. Sharing your address, phone number, birthday and other personal information can mean you are at a greater risk of identity theft, stalking and harassment. This includes information you post on social media.


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Why is information privacy important?

Information privacy is crucial to the broader right to privacy. It relates to an individual’s ability to determine for themselves when, how, and for what purpose their personal information is handled by others. Protecting privacy is key to ensuring human dignity, safety and self-determination.


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What is information security and privacy?

Information security protects sensitive information from unauthorized activities, including inspection, modification, recording, and any disruption or destruction. The goal is to ensure the safety and privacy of critical data such as customer account details, financial data or intellectual property.


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What is used to protect information privacy?

Use a virtual private network

A virtual private network (VPN) gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. VPNs mask your Internet Protocol (IP) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable.


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What are the 3 purposes of records management?

Objectives of Records Management:
Control the quantity and quality of records. Simplify the activities, systems, and processes of records maintenance and use. Identify what records exist by records inventory.


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What are the principles of record management?

The 8 Principles are: Accountability, Transparency, Integrity, Protection, Compliance, Accessibility, Retention and Disposition. These are the “Principles” of good management of Records.


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What is the main purpose of record management?

Ultimately, Records Management ensures that institutional records of vital historical, fiscal, and legal value are identified and preserved, and that non-essential records are discarded in a timely manner according to established guidelines and identified legislation.


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What record management means?

Records management is defined as a “field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including processes for capturing, and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities.


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What are the 4 categories of retained records?

Records typically fall into four categories: those securing property such as titles or shares; those that mark certain crucial events such as businesses incorporations; those used for assessing operations; and those collected or retained in compliance with government regulation.


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What is the retention policy?

What is a retention policy. A retention policy (also called a ‘schedule’) is a key part of the lifecycle of a record. It describes how long a business needs to keep a piece of information (record), where it’s stored and how to dispose of the record when its time.


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Why do we retain records?

Records retention is important because it helps organizations save storage and operating expenses when dealing with paper records, reduce litigation risks by adhering to various rules and regulations, and increase record security by preventing unauthorized access.


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How long should records be kept?

In general, company records must be retained for around six years from the end of the accounting period. But some documentation needs to be kept for 10 years, including: The company’s statutory books (company registers need to be retained for the time the company is in business)


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Where should I store documents in my house?

For documents you keep at home, or copies of documents in your safe deposit box, get a home safe. It should be fireproof and have a secure locking mechanism. A safe at home helps you keep these items safe from people you don’t want accessing your personal information, as well as any emergencies, like fires or floods.


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What documents should you keep for seven years?

Period of Limitations that apply to income tax returns

Keep records for 7 years if you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction. Keep records for 6 years if you do not report income that you should report, and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return.


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How do you store personal papers?

The best way to protect your important documents is with a home lockbox. This is what FEMA recommends for storage. Get a fireproof, lockable box so your documents will be safe in an emergency. Also make sure the box is easy to carry so you can take your documents with you if you have to leave.


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Where can I organize important documents?

Paper documents should go into a locked location. Crucial items — such as birth and marriage certificates, titles, wills, insurance policies — are candidates for a safe deposit box or fireproof safe. Store the safe “somewhere not obvious in the case of a break-in,” Madison says, and keep digital copies of its contents.


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What are the 3 purposes of records management?

Objectives of Records Management:

Control the quantity and quality of records. Simplify the activities, systems, and processes of records maintenance and use. Identify what records exist by records inventory.


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What should the records management system include?

Policies and procedures set the standard for a compliant records management system. They should include the management of all records and media types, including email. Your company may have separate policies for records retention, active files, unused files, emails, and several other areas of information management.


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5 Key Considerations When Choosing a Document Management System

  • User-friendliness should come first.
  • Ensure that the software aligns with desired business benefits.
  • Factoring in security and compliance.
  • Preconfigured solutions reduce implementation time from weeks to days.
  • Must-haves for every office automation solution.

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What are 6 essential elements of an effective records management system?

There are six (6) foundational elements:

  • Records Inventory & Classification.
  • Retention scheduling.
  • Records Storage & Conversion.
  • Vital Records Program.
  • Disaster Prevention & Recovery Planning.
  • Disposition.

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Why do companies shred documents?

Several laws have been passed requiring businesses to destroy client information to protect individuals from the crime of Identity Theft. All types of organizations, professionals and individuals should protect themselves by using a secure document shredding service.


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How do you destroy a large amount of documents?

Shredding is a common way to destroy paper documents and is usually quick, easy and cost-effective. Many retailers sell shredders for use within your office or premises, enabling you to shred and dispose of the documents yourself.


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Can shredded documents be recovered?

It’s virtually impossible to retrieve or recover data at any useful level from a shredded hard drive. “The mechanical separation of a hard drive using a shredding device or machine typically breaks that drive down into particle sizes of anywhere from 1½ inches to 3/8 of an inch,” explains Cooper.


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What does it mean to shred a document?

Shredding is a common technique to destroy paper documents. A shredder may cut in a single direction, producing thin strips the length of the document. Some shredders cut in a second direction, turning those strips into very small pieces.


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Where can I scan papers for free?

Thankfully, there are a few apps for that.

  • Notes (iOS) This might be the easiest way to get scanning done, but there aren’t a lot of extra frills. …
  • Adobe Scan (Android and iOS) …
  • Microsoft Office Lens (Android and iOS) …
  • CamScanner (Android and iOS) …
  • SwiftScan (Android and iOS)

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How to Scan Documents With Android

  1. Open Google Drive and tap the + symbol.
  2. Under the Create New tab, select Scan.
  3. Position the phone camera over the document and tap the Shutter button when you’re ready to capture the image.
  4. Tap the check mark to keep the scan or the back arrow to retake it.

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Which scan is best for documents?

TIFF and PDF are the most popular file types for scanning documents. TIFF (Tagged Image File Format ) was created by the Aldus Corporation in order to to provide high-resolution images in printable, lossless quality. It is accepted that these files are several times the size of a lossy compressed JPEG image.


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What are the advantages of imaging records?

Here are six benefits document imaging offers your small business.

  • Digital storage. …
  • Streamlined file retrieval. …
  • Searchable documents. …
  • Enhanced file security. …
  • Disaster Recovery. …
  • Improved customer service.

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What is document imaging in healthcare?

What Is Document Imaging Technology? Document imaging systems (DIS) are information systems that typically capture information stored on paper documents and provide immediate, simultaneous access to the information contained in the patient or business record.


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Why should document imaging be used?

The key benefits of document imaging include decreased storage space for paper, faster and simpler access to information, enhanced information security, disaster recovery, increased employee collaboration, audit compliance, and a significant reduction in paper consumption.


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What is meant by document imaging?

Document Imaging means the conversion of paper files (of any size or description) or microfilm / fiche to digital images. The image can be form in TEM (transmission electron microscope), here the image is form by scattering of electron beam.


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How much does paper shredding cost?

Costs vary based on volume and frequency of pickup. All solutions are customized for your needs…no one-price-fits all.


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What do I need to do to prepare my documents for destruction?

Not much. Our industrial cross-cut shredders can handle staples, binders, paperclip, and any other metal materials. However, we would prefer if you removed paper from three-ring binders and plastic covers, which are challenging to separate during the recycling process.


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What are the benefits of Records Management?

The Benefits of Records Management include more effective management of your current records (both paper and electronic); a reduced/eliminated level of recordkeeping redundancies; reduced costs for records storage equipment and supplies; and increased usable office space through the elimination of unnecessary file storage. In addition, Records Management provides institutional accountability and timely access to information.


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Why is Records Management important?

Records Management ensures that important records – those of vital historical, fiscal, or legal value – are identified and preserved, and that non-essential records are discarded in a timely manner according to established guidelines.


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Why is Records Management important for organizations?

Records management is important because it ensures that important records are preserved and controlled throughout their lifecycle including compliance with set retention procedures. Using a document management system is the best way to guarantee records with historical, fiscal, risk management, and legal impact are accurately identified and preserved, and non-essential records are discarded as required by set rules.


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