Protecting Documents and Personal Information
It is essential for both businesses and households to protect sensitive personal information (PI). Most companies keep PI in their files. Names, social security numbers, credit card, and other account data used to identify customers or employees is a prime target for thieves. At home, receipts, credit card offers and statements, and bills can all contain PI.
If this sensitive data gets into the wrong hands, there can be significant trouble. Often, a breach isn’t noticed until it’s too late. You must begin damage control—disputing charges, canceling cards, bank fees– all causing a big headache for you or your company. If a company has a data breach, you can lose the trust of your customer and possibly even business.
Electronic passwords are a huge part of life. Make sure to keep passwords private and use strong passwords for your laptop, credit, bank, and other accounts. Be creative; add numbers and special characters to make the password harder to hack. Do not use an automatic login feature that saves your username and password, and always make sure to log off when you are finished working on your office or home computer.
Shredding sensitive information is a great way to protect yourself. Credit card offers and applications, receipts, insurance forms, physician statements, checks, bank statements, and old credit cards should all be shredded. Identity thieves are skilled at going through the trash and trying to apply for credit cards in other people’s names. Many communities have shredding events that are free.
Five Data Security Tips
- Take Stock – Identify what personal information you have on home and business computers, mobile devices, flash drives, and other equipment. Make sure to take stock of paper files as well.
- Cut Down – Be aggressive when auditing files. Keep only what you need for your home or business.
- Lock Up – Protect electronic information with passwords. Encrypt sensitive electronic information that you send to third parties or over public networks. Store paper information in a locked room, safe, or file cabinet.
- Toss It – Properly dispose or shred information you no longer need. Simply throwing things in the trash does not help. Thieves think of trash as goldmines and can even piece torn pages together to steal information.
- Plan It – Create a plan of response for possible security incidents. If a breach happens, follow the plan to reduce the impact on your business, your customers, and your employees.
April 21st is Earth Day!
Come celebrate with Partnership Wealth Management by bringing your old paper documents to the Canton Safeway in Baltimore. Mobile shredding trucks will be ready and waiting to properly destroy your documents and help prevent identity theft. In addition, you will be helping to save the environment! See our recent newsletter for more details.
The opinions voiced in this material are for informational purposes only and not intended to provide specific advice to any individual. This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized tax, legal, or investment advice. We suggest that you discuss your particular situation with a qualified tax, legal, or financial advisor.