How Long Do I Have to Keep My Tax Records?

Phew! April 18th has come and gone. Whether you looked forward to receiving a big refund or dreaded it because you had to pay, tax day is over. At least until next year.

But now, even with electronic filing, you probably have plenty of paper records in a filing cabinet somewhere. Years and years of forms, receipts and documents. One of the most common questions surround tax documents is “How long do we have to keep them?”

The answer: it depends.

If you’re still hanging on to files from 1990’s, you’re certainly safe to shred. In fact, 3 years is the recommended length to keep tax documents in most cases. But there are other situations when you should keep them longer (such as if you filed a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction). You can review the list of IRS guidelines here, or contact a trusted CPA for specific questions about what and how long to keep files.

It can be scary to shred documents (what if I need these later)? However, it can be even scarier NOT to shred them. Paper files create a security risk. Personal information can get into the wrong hands. Papers could be lost or stolen. Your financial information may have changed in the last ten years, but your social security number hasn’t. You still need to protect your personal information.

The safest thing is to destroy documents you no longer need. And when it’s time to do that, make sure you partner with a professional. You can bring them into an on-site shredder, such as Tristar’s Walk-In Shredding, or arrange for a one-time service if you don’t already have a regularly scheduled service in place.

For more information about document shredding contact Tristar today.

Benefits of Walk-In Shredding

No matter the size, location or industry, document and information security is critical to all businesses. Whether it includes patient information, financial records or other critical data, proper security and disposal should be a top priority. Not only for ethical reasons, but also from a legal standpoint. There are severe penalties for non-compliance, as well as potential PR repercussions that can negatively affect a business. The risks simply aren’t worth it.

Which is why many people opt to physically bring in and watch their documents and/or hard-drives in being shredded. It’s worth it for their peace of mind.

In fact, walk-in shredding has many benefits, including:

Convenience – When you have documents you need to destroy,  you simply bring it in to the center. No appointment necessary during regular business hours, and no need to wait or hold on to them until a scheduled day/time. Instead, you set the schedule according to your needs.

Any Amount – Most walk-in shredding locations, including Tristar’s new Conroe location, will accept any amount, big or small. You can pop in with a single box of documents, or arrive with multiple boxes and several hard-drives.

Paper and Hard-Drive Shredding –  You can go to one single location to safely and securely dispose of both paper documents AND hard-drives.

Peace of Mind – There is a certain peace of mind that comes with having your documents or hard-drives shredded on-site while you watch. No wondering what could happen after they leave your hands. Plus, you’ll have a record confirming that your documents have been destroyed.

Walk-in shredding is a convenient and safe way to destroy documents. If you have questions about the service, contact us directly today. Or bring your documents or hard-drives to our new walk-in location:

Tristar Document Shredding

500 North Loop 336 East, Suite 106-107

Conroe, TX 77301

Walk-in Shredding Hours:

Monday – Friday 8am – 5pm

Saturday by appointment

 

How to Find a Trustworthy Data and Document-Shredding Service

paper scrap imageWe all know the value of shredding confidential documents, but what is the value of on-site shredding? On-site shredding is when a shredding company destroys your documents, hard drives, etc., on-site in front of your own eyes.

Many people have concerns about handing over their confidential documents containing private information to a stranger, even if that stranger is a shredding company. We understand these concerns. The whole reason people have documents shredded is to keep the information they contain from falling into someone else’s hands, so it makes sense to have anxiety about handing them over to a stranger.

How can you get peace of mind when using a professional shredding service? Here are some tips to help you find a document and hard-drive-destruction company that you can trust:

Research – Do your research, people! Make sure the company you choose is a respectable, trustworthy company. Check any ratings and reviews, and always go with a company that gives you a Certificate of Destruction confirming your materials have been destroyed.

NAID Membership – Another good thing to look for is whether or not they have a membership with the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID). NAID membership shows that the company and its employees are professionals who are up-to-date with the current industry standards and regulations.

Recycle – Once you have chosen a shredding company, be sure to ask if they recycle! With the amount of paper that is being shredded by any given shredding company, it’s a no-brainer that they should recycle it and help protect the environment. Make sure they dispose of shredded hard drives and e-waste responsibly as well – these things should also be recycled as they contain toxic components that are harmful to people, animals and the environment.

Convenience – Last but not least, you want to choose a shredding service that is efficient but also convenient for you. Do they offer the services that you need, and are they capable of handling the amount of shredding you have? Do they come to you, or do you go to them? Do they offer regular scheduled services or just one-time services? Make sure that they can meet your needs with minimal effort from you.

If you have questions about document shredding or need additional information about business services or pricing, contact Tristar Document Shredding today.

5 Reasons You Need to Shred Your Old Devices

old cell phones

These days, cell phones are involved in every aspect of our lives: we use them as phones, GPS devices, portable computers, and more. Whether you realize it or not, your phone has sensitive information stored on it. Smart phones store all of our usernames and passwords. They have direct access to our bank accounts. They have email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers and pictures of our families and friends.

We all love the convenience of technology, but few realize the importance of properly disposing of your old smart phone when you upgrade to a new device. Having your mobile device shredded is the only 100% guaranteed way to wipe the memory on your device.

Just in case you need convincing, here are 5 reasons to shred your old devices:

  • Restoring your phone to factory settings doesn’t always work. The stores and cell phone carriers will always recommend this option, and sure it doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t always work either. A team at Cambridge University conducted a research study and found that 80% of the time, they were able to recover authentication tokens, which are essentially an electronic key to access confidential accounts and information. So 80% of the time, they were able to restore the phone from factory settings and access confidential information of the previous owner.
  • The SIM card is not the only part of the phone that stores information. If you remove the SIM card from your device, that does not remove all the stored information within your phone. Just like the phones in the Cambridge research study, all devices have internal components that store information — whether they have a SIM card or not. Removing the SIM card will remove the information stored on the SIM card, but not the information that is stored in your device internally.
  • Destroying it is not enough. So you take a hammer to your phone … that should do the trick, right? Guess again. Just because the phone looks destroyed does not mean that all the right memory chips and internal components that store information have been correctly and totally destroyed. The only guaranteed way to wipe information from a phone is by having a professional shred it.
  • A little information goes a long way. As technology evolves and gets smarter, so do the thieves and hackers. Oftentimes, all they need is one tiny piece of information in order to unlock the door that leads to much more crucial information.
  • Your whole life is on your phone. From emails to bank accounts to photos of loved ones — every little detail about you is stored on your phone. That is reason enough to want to make sure the information on your phone is destroyed properly, by a professional, to ensure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

When dealing with information that is this confidential, you want to make 100% sure you have it completely erased. Do your research and you’ll find that data destruction and e-waste recycling are the only safe ways to dispose of your devices. When you’re ready for an expert to take those old devices off your hands and destroy them safely, give us a call at 936-788-4733 or visit our website to get a free quote.

New Year, New Practices: Why You Should Use Professional Data & Document Shredding in 2017

tristar helpAs we get ready to ring in the New Year, most everyone’s brains are already occupied by 2017. What will your resolutions be? To exercise or lose weight, to eat healthier, to be more productive or more organized, to try new things? Does one of those sound right?

A general rule when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions is that we are all aiming to better ourselves in some way in the coming year. Generally it comes to bettering our health, wealth or happiness – but what about bettering our businesses?

Something of great importance when it comes to a successful business is protecting the confidential information of both your company and your clients. Businesses have to be in compliance with federal and state laws when it comes to storing and disposing of private records and sensitive information. Failing to do so can result in serious penalties and fines. Depending on the degree of the breach, sometimes criminal penalties can even be administered along with a fine.

With the help of a professional data and document destruction service, you can ensure that your company meets the legal obligations it has involving secure information destruction and disposal. A mobile shredding service, like Tristar Document Shredding, will come to you to make the process as easy as possible. All you do is schedule a service, whether it’s one time or a regularly scheduled service, and we’ll handle the rest.

If you need a regularly scheduled service (weekly, monthly or semi-monthly), you will be provided with a container in which to dispose of sensitive information. We will then come to you at the scheduled time and take care of it – simple as that!

Our industrial shredders can take care of documents (staples, paper clips, binding, etc. included!), hard drives, magnetic tapes, CDs and more. In addition to document shredding, Tristar Shredding offers hard-drive destruction, electronic media destruction and e-waste recycling. Need a document-storage facility cleaned out? We offer one-time purge services for large volumes of documents – a certificate of destruction is included: it’s a guarantee that we have securely disposed of your sensitive information.

So if you need help getting healthy in 2017, you’re on your own – but if your goal is to better your business, be more organized, or try something new, let Tristar Shredding help you out.

To get a free quote or to schedule a service, please visit our website at www.tristarshredding.com.

3 Benefits of Mobile Shredding

28255631 - a man wearing a suit showing a document with the text confidential written in it

Whether you run a business or a household, it’s always important to protect sensitive and confidential information from falling into the wrong hands. Every day, as an individual, you are at risk of identity theft; if you don’t properly destroy documents and data with containing sensitive information then you are increasing that risk. Businesses are at risk everyday too; at risk of security breaches that will lead to an incredible loss of money and possible legal action against them.

Here are 3 reasons to start using a mobile shredding service to help protect yourself or your business:

Protection Against Fraud. This is a BIG ONE. Fraud is on the rise and it’s a global problem. Hackers can recover sensitive information – from old hard drives, computers, cell phones, disks, etc. – even if they have been cleaned or erased.

Many people think data destruction is as simple as deleting files and emptying the recycle bin. In reality, when computer files are deleted, the operating system only deletes the links to the data, leaving the actual data still on your hard drive.

Documentation and paperwork that is kept around the home or office can also be stolen or found in the trash and used to steal an identity. It’s just as important to shred documents as it is to shred hard drives.

Secure document and data destruction is crucial for regulatory compliance with all major Federal, State and industry regulations. Data destruction is the only 100% secure method to absolutely ensure that your data is not accessible by anyone.

Environmental Benefits. Mobile document and data destruction services help you dispose of confidential information in an environmentally responsible manner. All of your documents and data will be will be destroyed and recycled back into the world.

It’s Convenient. This one is a no-brainer. You can schedule a service to come regularly, say once every month or so, or you can schedule a one-time on-site purge. Either way the mobile shredding service comes to you, they handle everything on-site and then they give you a certificate of destruction on their way out. You don’t even have to leave your desk.

Tristar Document Shredding provides commercial, community and residential data destruction, hard drive destruction and e-waste recycling throughout the state of Texas. Our mobile data destruction services are an easy and effortless way to ensure that your company is compliant with all major regulations.

Visit our website for more information on document and data destruction or get a free quote here.

Rules for Recycling Electronic Waste

ewaste

What is Electronic Waste?

Electronic waste, more commonly referred to as e-waste, is what remains of our old, broken or outdated electronic devices. Many people don’t realize that e-waste consists of much more than old cell phone’s; its computers, hard drives, televisions, VCRs, DVD players, tablets, video game consoles, USB and other external storage devices, radios, copy/fax machines, printers and more.

Why is E-Waste Bad?

E-waste is a quickly growing problem in today’s world. According to a report from United Nations University, an academic and research arm of the United Nation, we discarded almost 42 million metric tons of e-waste in 2014, and the amount has since continued to rise. Elephants generally weigh around 1 metric ton (2,240 pounds). That means our discarded e-waste in 2014 alone is roughly equal to the weight of 42 million elephants.

A lot of the materials that make up our electronics are valuable: silver, gold, titanium, copper, iron and more. When recycled by a professional service, these valuable materials can be removed and recycled.

Just like they contain valuable materials, they also contain materials that are toxic to us: arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium and many more. If we toss our electronic devices in the trash they end up in a landfill where these toxins will eventually leak out into ecosystem, turning our air toxic and water toxic and harming our plant and animal life. The more toxins leaking into the earth, the more damage it will do, eventually affecting our food supply. These toxins also cause bodily harm to anyone who comes in contact with them. Some side effects of being exposed to these toxins include birth defects, cancer, lung damage, thyroid damage, seizures and even death.

What Can We Do?

Clearly we’re not going to stop buying electronics, so what we need to focus on is being responsible consumers. To do this we can make sure we buy good quality electronics that will last longer. We can keep our electronic devices for longer periods of time, instead of unnecessarily upgrading them every year.

And when you do have to get rid of an electronic device…RECYCLE!!! Have a professional, reliable company shred your hard drives and recycle your cell phones, tablets and other electronic waste. There are mobile shredding and data destruction companies that will come to you, making it super easy for you to securely and responsibly dispose of all your electronics and confidential materials.

If you would like more information on e-waste recycling, or would like to get a free quote, please contact us at 936-228-5500 or visit our website here.

How to Protect Your Child from Identity Theft

identity theftBack-to-school is a busy and exciting time for students, teachers and parents. It’s also an exciting time for identity thieves. Yes, you read that correctly.

Child identity theft is probably the last thing you think of when you think of the first day of school, but sadly, it’s something you should be thinking about. Child identity theft is real, and it seems to be on the rise. Filling out any kind of paperwork for your children, enrolling them in school, signing up for extra-curricular classes/teams and getting a debit or credit card for your older kids can put them at risk of identity theft.

Most people don’t even realize their child’s identity has been stolen until the child is grown and trying to apply for a credit card, lease an apartment or buy a car.

Here are some tips to help protect your child from identity theft:

  • Ask Questions. Anytime you have to provide your confidential information to a school or organization, ask the schools policy on storing and disposing of sensitive documents. Security experts say that the only secure way for organizations to destroy confidential documents and data is through a professional, secure shredding company.
  • Understand Privacy Laws & Your Rights. The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of student education records and also gives parents options when it comes to sharing contact/directory information with third parties.
  • Safely Store Sensitive Information. Keep all of your child’s personal documents like birth certificate, social security card and passport in a secure place like a safe or a locked filing cabinet.
  • Shred Old & Expired Personal Documents. Important information can fall into the wrong hands when tossed in the trash or recycling bin. When a document containing your child’s personal information expires, or is no longer needed, shred them.
  • Teach Internet Safety. Kids use the internet for everything these days. It’s very common for sites, games and apps to require the filling out and submission of an online form before allowing the user access. Social media accounts contain everything about your child: their school, friends, interests, birthday, address, photos of what they look like and the exact location for every post. Talk with your kids about the extreme importance of internet safety and require them to ask permission before filling out any online forms. Talk to them about giving out information on social media and check the privacy settings of their social media accounts to make sure they are private.
  • Watch for Red Flags. If your child starts receiving anything in the mail, credit card applications, random catalogs or any kind of statement, that’s a red flag you need to investigate. It may not always mean their identity has been stolen, but it’s definitely something you don’t want to ignore.
  • Secure Data Destruction. Your children’s computer and cell phones contain information on them that is not easy to get rid of. When your child upgrades to a new phone or computer, make sure you have the hard drive shredded or the cell phone properly recycled. Hard drive destruction is the only 100% secure way to protect information.

Identity theft continues to be a growing concern in today’s world. Keep your children, and yourself, as safe as possible by securely disposing of any documents or data that contain sensitive information.

If you need commercial or residential secure onsite document and data destruction contact Tristar Document Shredding at 1-888-747-3397 or visit our website at www.TristarShredding.com.

Business Shredding and Document Destruction – Partner with a Professional

business shredding

Security is a top priority for businesses. Not only for their own data, but its imperative that organizations protect their customers’ information as well. Proper destruction of documents, hard drives and anything with sensitive information is critical for long-term success.

Improper destruction can lead to a whole host of problems – security breaches, identity theft, financial penalties, not to mention a PR nightmare. So when it comes to document and data destruction, you’ll want to partner with a reputable company. Here’s why:

Convenience: A shredding company that comes to you saves you time and hassle. Also, there is no need to remove paper clips, staples, binders, etc. which makes life so much easier. 

Range of Services: Professional services can properly destroy not only paper, but also hard drives, magnetic tapes, CD’s, and floppy discs as well.

Budget Friendly: Partnering with a company such a TriStar allows you to budget properly. Containers are supplied at no charge to contracted businesses, and there are no hidden charges or add-ons so you know exactly what your cost will be. No surprises.

Customizable: You can customize your business shredding service based on your organization’s unique needs. The size of container, frequency other customizations can be implemented to best serve you. Whether weekly, semi-monthly or monthly shredding, you can tailor the schedule and adjust as needed.

Secure: Secure containers give you piece of mind that your data is stored safely until your next scheduled service.

Proof: Upon completion, you will receive a Certificate of Destruction confirming your materials have been destroyed.

When it comes to sensitive information, businesses have an obligation to properly destroy their customers’ data. By partnering with a professional you’ll have piece of mind and confidence, so you can focus on what you do best – running your business.

If you have questions about document shredding, or need additional information about business services or pricing, contact TriStar Document Shredding today.  

6 Benefits of Mobile Data Destruction

hard drive shreddingSecure Data Destruction is an important topic that most businesses take seriously – and for good reason. There are regulations and stiff penalties for noncompliance, not to mention potential PR nightmares for security breaches.

Which is why it’s critical for organizations to partner with a reputable company for their paper and hard drive data destruction needs. A company that comes to your location and completes the process on-site provides multiple benefits.

Below are six benefits of on-site mobile data destruction: 

Convenience – Mobile data destruction removes the hassle of having to transport sensitive data or physically bringing hardware to a location. It’s easy and convenient, which saves you time and increases efficiency.

You Can Witness the Process – If seeing is believing, you’ll know for a fact that your data was properly destroyed. By choosing on-site mobile data destruction you can see the process from start to finish. This provides peace of mind, because the sensitive data never leaves your location. No worrying g about what happens to it after it leaves your hands.

Professional Grade Equipment – Heavy-duty, top-of-the-line equipment is necessary to remove drives from machines and server banks. Professional equipment can turn even the most difficult jobs into scrap metal.

Ensures Regulation Compliance – Using a reputable mobile data destruction company helps ensure you are compliant with Federal, State and Industry Regulations. The process is documented so you have proof of 100% secure data destruction.

Environmentally Responsible – You can feel good knowing that members of the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) recycle in an environmentally responsible manner. For example Tristar Shredding recycles all of the data back into the world so not a single fragment ends up in a landfill.

Peace of Mind – Knowing that you have taken the steps to dispose of your sensitive data properly and environmentally friendly gives you peace of mind. You can sleep at night knowing that your business and your customers are as safe as possible.

Click here to learn more about TriStar Shredding’s Mobile Data Destruction, or contact us here.