Do you have a white board or cork board that is hanging in your office with client information, or your clients credit card details written on a post-it on your computer, a printed copy of a client contract with an ACH authorization form attached or anything else with personal client information hanging out in your office easily viewable or easily found by opening a few drawers?
I bet most of us may not have given a single thought into the physical information we have in our home office that relates to our clients. Who would, really? It's not a public place really....but, what about the few times that it is?
We open up our homes all of the time, whether it's friends or family visiting, an internet repair man that needs access to your office, your cleaning lady, hosting a dinner party, etc. and it is our responsibility to maintain our client's privacy. Surely, you wouldn't leave your personal, sensitive information easily accessible when other people are in your home...but, we're likely not doing that for our clients.
And, it truly doesn't take much for someone to steal someone's identity, hack their accounts, stalk them, etc. A name is all you need to start the process of reaching someone to see if it's a worthwhile adventure for someone to try something unethical and illegal.
So, I want you to take a moment and do a quick inventory of the information you may have laying around and come up with a easy system to keep it safe. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate - you could place an outside lock on your office door, place a lock on your desk drawer, or simply put the information in an area that isn't super easy to find. Creating this habit and doing it daily limits the chance of forgetting to do it when a visitor is in your home.
And, if you truly don't have any physical copies anywhere, you need to have a password on your computer, especially if it's used by others, your wifi needs to have a password (don't forget to have that password enabled on your printer!!), don't use the same password across every platform you use, and try to make your passwords difficult to guess. I know this is hard and annoying, but it's necessary.
Phrases are better than words, putting uppercase letters randomly, and throwing a number or symbol in the middle is great to. Ex: TheSea@IsBlue!
While you're at it, check out this new podcast I found called Data Security & Privacy: The Privacy Professor with Rebecca Herold. The title is self-explanatory, but it's all about data and privacy protection for individuals and businesses.
We all know this day in age, we can really never be too careful. Now go to that quick inventory!
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>> This post is informational and educational only and is not legal advice, nor does it create a consultant-client relationship. Please consult your legal counsel for further guidance on this topic. <<