Businesses are placing themselves at risk of fraud or even prosecution under data protection laws by failing to properly dispose of their documents, warns Patrick Stephens of The Shred Centre.

The managing director of the family-run business, based in Spennymoor, County Durham, said that businesses must extend their focus beyond digital data to consider physical formats, equally important under GDPR.

According to statisticians, the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, with 45 percent of paper printed in offices ending up discarded – often insecurely – by the end of the day.

Due to increased awareness around online security, businesses are in general becoming savvier about protecting their confidential information.  However, in a busy office environment, it can be too easy to discard printed reports, photocopied invoices and even casual, handwritten notes without thought.

Lack of vigilance over tangible data can cost companies dearly, whether it’s a failure to store the data securely enough or by not destroying it properly.

Patrick says that businesses of all sizes – from small start-ups to large corporations – should continue to recognise the importance of ensuring confidential waste paper is destroyed securely and sustainably by outsourcing the service to professionals.

He said: “UK law aims to protect businesses against fraudulent activity, yet it is still a frequent occurrence. The best way to comply with the law and provide the most effective security against fraud is to use a professional, confidential waste destruction shredding service provider.

“By having this sensitive material removed and shredded by accredited and professional service provider on a regular basis, businesses are mitigating of the risks associated with keeping it on their premises while meeting their data protection responsibilities.”

While advancements in technology have allowed businesses to move their information to the cloud, only a small percentage operate in a paperless environment.  Businesses still consume vast amounts of paper, dispelling the myth of offices going digital and signalling a need for oversight of physical information and data security.