Why Accountants Need To Review Their Shredder Policy During Tax Season

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Digital identity theft is the primary concern for most business professionals, including accountants. Yet during tax time, strategic dumpster diving is a common technique used by identity thieves. Focused on dumpsters behind office buildings where accountants and tax preparers conduct business, identity thieves rely on the hectic busy season to create lapses in document-based identity theft prevention.

Shredding Policy Basics

  1. Ensure all employees know what documents must be shredded. Create a list of key documents as reference for all employees.
  2. Shred all documents during working hours. Avoid leaving slush piles of paper to shred while not in the office. Cleaning crews may accidentally toss these papers if they appear as trash.
  3. Ensure shredder bins are emptied regularly. When employees are busy, full shredder bins often lead to documents being set aside to be shredded later, only to be discarded as regular trash.

Choosing a Shredder for an Accounting Office

Select a paper shredder that accommodates the size of the office.  Large, commercial shredders are ideal for any size shared office as they require less frequent emptying. Small office shredders placed by employee desks work well too. Automatic shredding is the latest in shredder technology and allows documents to be safely destroyed even after office hours with computerized settings. Learn more about Automatic Shredding

Make sure to use cross-cut shredders. Strip cut shredders are okay for households, but do not provide adequate document destruction for businesses. Cross-cut shredders grind documents into 5/32” x 1-1/2” cross-cut particles.(Security Level P-4).  For greater peace of mind, consider a micro-cut shredder.

Learn more about shredding security levels

Lax  Tax Document Destruction in the News

 

Why Some Small Businesses Use Big Shredders

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When we think of commercial shredders we typically think of large offices, lots of employees and lots of shredding. Small businesses have their own size shredders of course, smaller deskside versions that are more suitable for smaller work environments. However, in a recent survey conducted by Fellowes to better understand customer needs, it was discovered that many smaller business customers with less than ten employees were upsizing to the larger commercial machines. Here are some reasons why.

Long-Term Productivity Over Short Term Savings

Though commercial shredders cost more, they make up for their expense with enhancements to productivity.

Smaller shredders require more frequent emptying. The larger bin capacity of a commercial machine means less time spent disposing of shredded paper.

Larger machines have higher sheet capacities and longer run times, making shredding more efficient overall. If shredding is a consistent part of a business day such as a law office or mortgage company. even for a small office, this makes a commercial shredder a worthy investment.

More Prominent Reminder of Document Destruction Policies

Many small businesses who handle confidential customer information have found it necessary to establish a formal document destruction policy to prevent liability, a measure typically taken  by large corporate offices. Small deskside shredders tucked away under desks, make it easier for employees to neglect the policy. The presence of a large commercial shredder with a document destruction policy posted on the wall above offers a continuous reminder to employees to shred sensitive documents.

More Efficient During Document Purges

Some businesses may not shred constantly day in and day out, but may destroy documents on designated days of the week or during key periods of their business cycle. In these instances, even though it is used less, a larger commercial shredder is more efficient at destroying large quantities of documents during a purge. In some instances selecting automatic shredders makes this purge process even easier.

Why Businesses Are Upgrading to Automatic Shredders

With government regulations demanding compliance with identity protection guidelines and an increase in high volume shredding, companies are seeking new ways to improve productivity of the shredding process with automatic paper shredders.

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Many businesses choose off-site shredding companies as a convenient solution. However with this hands-off service, comes a few drawbacks including high prices and a risk of exposing confidential information to an external vendor.

Many businesses instead are using automatic on-site shredding. The single cost purchase of an automatic high volume shredder provides long-term shredding without the hefty service fees of shredding services. And an on-site commercial shredder keeps all confidential information in the office.

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Most importantly, auto feed paper shredders also provide a hands-free experience. Users simply load the bin, push the button and walk away. From a productivity standpoint, this means employees spend less time shredding and more time on other more important tasks. Another important feature are safety locks, which prevents the shredder from being opened after it begins the shredding process, so confidential documents remain safe until completely destroyed.

Automatic shredding also allows the shredding process to occur in a timely manner, eliminating the risky build-up of confidential documents waiting to be destroyed, making confidential shredding an important perk of automatic machines.

The value of automatic shredding spans across many industries that handle sensitive materials.

Healthcare

Medical clinics and hospitals can quickly destroy reams of sensitive patient information as medical records clerks purge old files in less time.

Law

Law clerks find automatic shredding useful for past client records or destroying the duplicate paperwork of a long case.

Finance

Accountants use automatic shredding to maintain a consistent storage and destruction cycle for business records. Large quantities of sensitive documents  are usually in immediate need of shredding, and the process can take accounting clerks weeks to properly dispatch such paperwork.

Real Estate and Mortgage

Credit apps from home buyers quickly pile up on a realtor’s desk, unfortunately a desk often left unattended while showing homes. Automatic shredding saves real estate companies time by allowing these documents, which often contain social security numbers, bank account numbers and driver’s license information, to be quickly shredded without delay.

The Shared Workspace and the Noisy Shredder

imagesWhen you work in a small office, there are compromises. Probably the most annoying is a loud shredder. There is no separate shredding room of course, that would be a luxury. Instead the paper shredder is most likely somewhere in between the water cooler and the coffee station. This means that someone will inevitably start shredding while you are on the phone with a client, leading to flailing arms and the mouthed words, “turn that thing off!”  Or someone starts shredding while you are having a meeting, leading to a collective sigh and someone volunteering to tell the shredding perpetrator, as tactfully as possible, “not right now.”

Eventually someone will get fed up, whether it’s the boss and CEO (who has the little office next to the bathroom) or the admin or can’t get anything done while that obnoxious shredder rattles on all day and decides to take administrative action. This means putting up a laminated sign outlining rules of shredding conduct. Making statements like:

Please determine if a meeting is in session before shredding, or have the courtesy to not shred when others are on the phone.

But signs don’t solve the problem, and when records rooms need to be purged after tax time and a piles of paper starts taking up space around the shredder to the point where you have bob and weave around canceled FTP proposal forms just to get your lunch out of the mini fridge.  Now the complaint will be. “Who is supposed to be shredding all this?”

The poor intern of course will shrug and point to the laminated sign, indicated that meetings and phone calls have interrupted the unwanted but critical shredding process.
A Quieter Shredder Solution.

Select a shredder with quiet performance features, specifically designed for the small office.

Here are some options:

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The 79CI Cross Cut Shredder not only features whisper quiet SilentSense to return peace and quiet to your tiny workplace, it also features 100% jam proof shredding.

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Also consider the 90S Strip Cut Paper Shredder. This robust small office shredder, also with quiet performance, destroys documents for up to 25 minutes before requiring a cool down.

For higher security needs, the 99MS micro-cut paper shredder shreds paper 5x smaller than cross cut shredders, and does so quietly.

 

Creating Hands-On Marketing in a Digital Age

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With the rise of SEO and digital advertising, your internet footprint, as valuable as it is for modern communication,  leaves customers with just a glimpse of who you are, a brief message that vaporizes with the next barrage of marketing headlines online. Handing your customers collateral, believe it or not, still works. This is especially true for small businesses where an emerging reach with new customers and clients becomes more solidified with a printed piece. Creating your own marketing materials is also easy and cost-effective, helps build customer relations and doesn’t require the costs incurred from a print shop.

Types of  Collateral

The Menu of Services

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Whether you are running a beauty salon or a cake decorating business, an elegant menu of services that customers can hold in their hands is an ideal way to pull in new business opportunities by stimulating questions and engaging customers with printed content. The Menu of Services can reside in your waiting area or be a piece customers can take home after an initial visit to your storefront.

Tips for Menu of Services

  • Use quality paper stock or laminate the pages
  • Use a font that fits your brand
  • Take time writing each menu item description. Make sure it is clear and not so fun that it fails to communicate anything. Be detailed and make distinctions between menu offerings

Bind your Menu of Services with a wire binding machine. This type of binding allows the menu to be laid out flat and also makes it easy to switch up pages in the document if menu offerings change.

The Professional Leave Behind

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For sales calls and new client meetings, a professional leave behind is the ideal way to tell your company story succinctly and without a lot of fluff. A leave behind that is kept, over one that ends up in the trash after you leave, is defined by a professional look from cover to cover. Use a thermal binding system to communicate the quality of your services and indelible permanence of your company. You want your client to see your brochure as too premium to be tossed. Be sure to communicate in pictures and words what you can do for your client and how you do it.

The Customized Proposal

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When it comes time to crunch numbers in a client proposal your presentation becomes a combination of clarity, accuracy and professional look. Whether you are quoting for a contracting opportunity or a closing on a service agreement, that customized proposal needs to have all the right info and look as good as its contents, but not too high end that it looks like you might be wasteful with budgets.   High quality thermal in this instance may imply excessive spending. Show you are conservative and mindful of the bottom line. Use a comb or wire binding system when putting together your presentation so information is clear and not cluttered behind jazzy graphics or a lot of copy. The other advantages to this binding system is that documents can be laid out flat on a desk to discuss details while meeting with your prospect.