Understanding The Federal Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act: HIPAA

Here at Neighborhood Parcel, you might have noticed a couple of acronyms floating around when we mention our shredding service, namely FACTA and HIPAA. These are federal laws that deal with identity information and the protection of said information; FACTA stands for the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, and HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Both of these laws are enacted to protect confidential information from getting into the wrong hands, and we’d like to take a moment to explain one of those, specifically HIPAA.


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What Is HIPAA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was signed in 1996 by president Bill Clinton, and was designed to improve the portability of health insurance coverage. Part of this act also included instructions on how to properly dispose of confidential information, such as patient records. Tossing sensitive information in the dumpster isn’t a good idea, as anyone can simply reach in and take that information, and use it for things like identity theft. This day and age it’s not worth it to take the risk, as fines for improper disposal of sensitive materials start as high as $4,500 per incident. So what kinds of methods are appropriate for disposing of such sensitive information?

For starters, paper and medical records should be made unreadable, indecipherable, or otherwise cannot be reconstructed through processes such as shredding. Sensitive information may be dropped in a securely locked container to be accessed by trusted individuals for proper disposal later as well. Electronic media is a little bit trickier, as there are ways to recover data from storage devices in a variety of conditions, including formatted/erased and even damaged. Hard drives may be degaussed; a process of exposing the drive to strong magnetic fields to disrupt magnetically recorded data. Other methods of disposal of electronic records include destroying the media the data is recorded on, including processes such as disintegration, melting, incinerating, pulverization, etc. The point is no one should be able to recover the information, period.

Whether you’re dropping off or using an off-site shredding service, we comply with all HIPAA regulations to make sure sensitive data is secured and destroyed. We can do everything from shredding paper, to disintegrating hard drives and more; one trip to us or a phone call prevents things like identity theft, and the consequences for you therein. In today’s world data is everything, make sure when you get rid of it that it stays gone.


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