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Chain of Custody

A real life story

As I was walking my dogs, Keiffer and BaJa, at a park one day, I met some nice folks from Tampa, Florida who were vacationing in the area. Their children were happily playing in a waterfall next to a beautiful old chapel and were so enthralled with my dogs that they captured their parents’ attention. As I answered the tenth question about what kind of dogs they were and why one has a blue eye and a brown eye, their father asked me what I did for a living.

I politely answered him to say that I had been in the records management business for over a decade. As I went into more detail, I could tell that something was wrong. It became so obvious I had to sort of laugh and ask what was wrong, wherein he proceeded to tell me his story.

The story went that the father was an owner of an insurance business with three locations, that all used an on-site vendor for their shredding needs. One day, they found their checking account was $4,000 or so shorter than it was supposed to be. After much tracing and research, they found out that someone had stolen an old check from one of boxes given to the on-site shredding vendor. Research showed that it was not an employee of the vendor but someone else. They never understood how it happened. At that time, I tried to explain what could have easily happened: the chain of custody was broken.

The negligent on-site vendor obviously dumped his load at a recycling center instead of baling and securely delivering it to a paper mill, and for whatever reason, the check slipped through the shredder. The recycling center, which has no fiduciary responsibility to the customer or the vendor, hires employees without background checks or drug testing. In the meantime, the employee in question sees the check and the rest is history.

The essential component of document shredding

Chain of custody is the very essence of the shredding business—where it is done is unimportant compared to the process the documents take once they leave your door. In essence, an irresponsible on-site vendor can easily let documents blow away in the wind or take a load to the recycling center just as in the story above.

Off-site shredding vendors, on the other hand, lock the containers in a locked vehicle and unload inside a facility with cameras. Then your documents are securely shredded, baled and safely held until the load goes directly to the paper mill for processing where they are recycled and become commercial products such as paper towels, etc.

To the inexperienced eye, having the documents shredded at your door seems to be the safest way to do it, but my advice is to investigate further as to the safeguards and procedures that your vendor takes. At the very least, ask if they are NAID certified. NAID certification puts the procedures in place for you so you don’t have to worry about it!

Blessings,

Renee Keener

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