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How to prevent employee identity theft

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Identity theft has become an unbelievable risk and waste in recent years — and much of that risk rests with employers. HR departments contain a virtual El Dorado of sensitive personal information. In the wrong hands, this information can wreak havoc — both for your employees and for you.

Here are some important steps to follow if you want to protect your employee’s (and your own) data, while also protecting yourself from liability:

1. Follow the law. Make absolutely sure your company is following state and federal laws designed to protect employees’ sensitive information. For example, if you collected a copy of a job candidate’s credit report as part of the hiring process, the Fair and Accurate Credit and Transactions Act requires you to shred, burn or delete that information as soon as reasonably possible after hiring. Many states also have strict laws regarding when, how and with whom you can share social security numbers.

2. Create detailed rules for the safe storage, use and disposal of all employees’ sensitive information, and set strong disciplinary actions for violators, up to and including termination. Educate your employees on the most efficient ways to handle and protect sensitive information. Set a no-tolerance tone regarding both identity theft and sloppy security practices.

3. Lock employees’ personal files away securely, either literally or electronically, and grant access only to those with the proper privileges, such as HR staff. Before you grant those special privileges, however, make an extra effort to screen any job candidates who will be handling sensitive data.

4. Stop using social security numbers for everything in the world! Businesses have traditionally typed them onto health benefit forms, timecards, pay stubs, you name it, as if they were nothing but innocent identifiers. Consider them dangerous — use them with great caution and only when absolutely necessary.

Written by Dan Hettrich

September 6, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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