What is a Certificate of Destruction?

A Certificate of Destruction certifies in writing that your documents were destroyed in compliance with the laws that apply in your state or industry. Certificates of destruction can be especially helpful when: 

  • You’re being audited by a regulatory agency or potential client and they want evidence that your document destruction processes are in compliance with all relevant rules or regulations
  • You’re ever in a position to defend yourself against allegations that confidential information wasn’t properly destroyed and landed in the wrong hands, causing harm to a client or another entity

Certificates of destruction are created by document shredding companies whose processes meet stringent state and federal guidelines and are typically available upon request. Even if you aren’t sure if you’ll need it later, it’s good practice to request a certificate of destruction every time.

What Should a Certificate of Destruction Look Like?

A certificate of destruction should contain several important elements. First, it should contain a serial number or transaction number that’s helpful during an audit. Second, it should include transfer of custody, which establishes the date and time that the client turned over the documents to the shredding company. Third, the shredding company should accept responsibility for maintaining complete confidentiality and security of the documents between the time they’re accepted and the time they’re shredded. Finally, it should include when and where the documents were shredded and who witnessed the shredding. It’s important to ask before you engage with a shredding company if they’re able to provide a certificate of destruction and follow-up with them if you don’t receive the certificate or it’s missing key data points that you would typically expect on such a document.

Is a Certificate of Destruction Required?

While a certificate of destruction isn’t required, it’s in the best interest of the organization to request and maintain CoDs. Reasons to retain them include: 

  • Demonstrating to future clients that your document and data destruction practices meet all local and federal regulations can improve their confidence in your organization and serve as a strong selling point for your services
  • Having certificates of destruction on file can be advantageous when you’re being audited by a regulating agency; it serves as additional evidence that your document destruction policies and procedures are being applied as outlined and are compliant with the regulations that govern your industry
  • A destruction certificate can be a solid component of your defense if ever accused of being careless in the way you discard or destroy confidential information within your organization

To be on the safe side, always request and file the certificate of destruction.

Contact River Mill Data Management

River Mill Data Managements document shredding processes are confidential, secure, and compliant with rules and regulations as they apply to data destruction. Our on-site services gives added peace of mind as documents never leave your sight between turnover of documentation and shredding on the truck. To learn more or schedule a consultation with the experts at River Mill, fill out our online contact form here. We’ll be in touch soon!

Date Posted: February 1, 2020

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