Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Identity exposed: 5 Tips: What you can do to keep your employee information confidential.

I guess it's lists week. Earlier I pointed to an article about the seven tricks used by ID thieves (Seven techniques used by ID thieves). Now, CNN/Money has an article on the five things employees can do to protect their personal information:

5 Tips: Identity exposed - May. 4, 2005:

"NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - We've reported to you about security breaches at ChoicePoint, Boston College, and LexisNexis. Now, the latest case of missing personal data turns out to be closer to home.

Time Warner, parent company of CNN/Money and CNN, announced Monday that 40 computer backup tapes containing the names and social security numbers of more than 600,000 current and former employees -- plus their dependents -- were lost.


Here are five tips on what you need to know about your employer and your personal information.

1. Employers hold the key.

Your social security number is the key to your credit. With that nine-digit number and your name, an identity thief can get access to your credit history, open credit cards in your name, even take out a mortgage posing as you.


2. Snoop around.

No kidding: your name and social security number could be on a checklist about the company picnic taped to the wall in the HR office. Maybe your HR department is a little more discreet. But do you know where your information is?

Take a cruise through the office. Do the timesheets in the open employee mailroom have names and social security numbers already printed on them? Are the file cabinets containing employee profiles unlocked? Does your ID card or health card have your SSN plastered on it?


3. Have a fit.

If your employer is guilty of being too casual with your personal information, go ahead, tell them they're wrong. Go tell your HR department you're concerned about the security of employee data.


4. Watch your back.

It's up to you to do what you can to protect yourself. The unfortunate thing is that most people don't.


5. Keep an eagle eye.


Worse, your employer is not the only one out there with access to your personal information. Your doctor, dentist, and utility provider might have your social security number because, well, they asked for it.

Don't be afraid to tell them "no" next time unless it's necessary. And when you give it up, ask them how seriously they take your security.


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