Did you know there are approximately 50 million victims of identity theft each year? Recently in Colorado, a sophisticated ID theft ring broke into various stores and stole employees’ records from safes and filing cabinets including copies of blank checks, driver’s licenses, and social security numbers. Storing hard copies of your employees’ information, even if locked in a filing cabinet or safe, can be extremely risky. Safeguarding your employees’ information is important and good business.
Below are 5 key principles that the Federal Trade Commission recommends when securing highly sensitive information.
1. Take Stock – Assess and keep inventory of all sensitive information you have for each employee by type and location. Ensure it is in a secure area at all times and only a minimum number of people have access to it. Keep track of who has access to the sensitive data at all times.
2. Scale Down – Keep only the information that you need and only as long as needed. Dispose of any unnecessary sensitive information. Also, only use social security numbers as necessary. It isn’t essential to use social security numbers as an employee identification number.
3. Lock It – If you do have hard copies of sensitive information, ensure to lock them in a secure location, such as locked safe or filing cabinet in a locked up room. Limit employee access to the locked location, and keep track of who has a key and the number of keys. Ensure that keys are kept with employee at all times. Also, make sure not to leave employee information out in a public area unattended. Please note that even with all these safety precautions, it can be easy for a professional thief to break open a filing cabinet or safe.
Electronic security is probably the most secure way of storing employee information due to the difficulty of trying to break into one’s secured data on a computer. However, there are still a few precautions you need to take when storing data electronically. Make sure you keep your login and password information secured. Don’t give out your password unless necessary. Also, don’t leave sensitive information on your computer screen unattended. Most importantly, ensure that all sensitive data is kept on a secured server, and run up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on your computers. Lastly, do not scan and email employee information. It is best to use a secured online system to complete and store employee’s sensitive information.
4. Pitch It – Shred, shred, shred! If you have hard copied sensitive information that you want to get rid of, make sure to shred or burn it so that it can’t be read or reconstructed. If you want to dispose of sensitive information on your computer, use software to securely erase data, usually called wipe utility programs. This will overwrite the entire hard drive so files cannot be recovered. Deleting files using your keyboard or mouse does not completely wipeout the files and can potentially be recovered.
5. Plan Ahead – Have a plan in place in case identity theft occurs. If filing cabinets or safes have been stolen or tempered with, contact the authorities and alert your employees immediately. If you have sensitive information on a computer and it has been compromised, disconnect the computer immediately from your network. If an incident does occur, you should consult your attorney.
It is extremely important to protect your employees from identity theft. GoHire’s onboarding system can help you protect your employees by storing their personal information in a secure, virtual environment. GoHire provides standard forms with sensitive information such as the I-9, W-4, and Direct Deposit Enrollment for new hires to complete and sign all online so there is no paper trail.
For more information regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s guide to protecting sensitive information for your business, please go to http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus69-protecting-personal-information-guide-business.
If you would like more information about Red Book Connect’s solution, GoHire, please visit our website at http://redbookconnect.com/hiring-gohire/.
Jodi Sabol | Marketing Consultant | Red Book Connect