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Records Management at UNC-Chapel Hill: Sensitive Records

This guide contains information and tips for UNC-Chapel Hill employees about records management requirements and procedures.

ITS Resources on Data Security

About Sensitive Records

Many of the records that we create and handle as UNC employees contain sensitive information. These types of records may include personnel files, student records, consumer information (such as credit card numbers), or other records with personally identifiable information (like driver's license numbers or Social Security numbers).

In the General Records Schedule, types of records that often contain sensitive information are identified with a lock symbol.

Lock Symbol on UNC Records Schedule section 5.15, Credit Card and Purchase Card Use Records

The lock symbol alerts you that the records may contain sensitive information and cites relevant state and federal laws regarding their handling and disposition.

Handling and Identifying Sensitive Records

Many of the sensitive records handled in UNC offices are not scheduled to be transferred to the University Archives. Often, the office will be required to maintain the records for a certain number of years after which, as long as there are no outstanding legal or audit holds, the records may be destroyed. UNC Facilities Services offers a confidential recycling program.

In those cases where sensitive records are scheduled for permanent retention, the transferring office must identify the records as sensitive in order to ensure that they are not opened for public access in the Wilson Special Collections Library's Research Room. Because we do not review every single document that comes to the University Archives, we may not notice sensitive records unless they are clearly identified.

There is no standard procedure for labeling sensitive records before transfer — each office should do what works best for them. Some offices separate sensitive records so that they are easy to find, others make sure they are clearly labeled as sensitive on the folder.

Look out for Social Security Numbers!

If you're working with older records, look out: Social Security numbers are everywhere. From the 1960s through the mid-1990s, UNC used Social Security numbers as the primary identification number for students and employees. These show up all over the place in older records: on job applications, CVs, and all sorts of student and employee files. Be extra careful with these records and be sure to identify any records that have Social Security numbers before they're transferred to the University Archives.

By the mid-1990s, UNC began using the PID as its primary identification number for students and employees. PIDs are not considered sensitive and do not need to be separated or redacted.