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This may seem to be a simple question, but officials often ask “how should I destroy a record?”  For many working papers and some temporary records of an office, tossing them in the trash, or better yet, recycling them, is appropriate. However, if there is a possibility that confidential information is included in the records, they should be disposed of in a manner that obliterates this information such as shredding or burning.[1]  The employees of your office would probably prefer that old temporary payroll records of your office which may contain their social security numbers not be put into a trash bin where someone could sift through them. Similarly, even though the information may be public while it is in your custody, many citizens would prefer that taxpayer records, vehicle registrations and other county records are obliterated when they leave your custody and don’t end up blowing around in a landfill for anyone to find. Computer records that are eligible for destruction should be fully deleted with storage disks destroyed, reformatted or over-written with new information to eliminate traces of the old files.

            [1]  See Op. Tenn. Att’y Gen. No. 01-040 (March 19, 2001).