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Were You “Targeted” in the Recent Hacker Scandal?

Data Privacy - Sobul, Primes & Schenkel - CPA Los AngelesA reminder to keep personal and client information secure

Soon after word got out about the hacking scandal during the holidays, fraudsters got busy creating fake emails from the affected companies, hoping to get nervous victims to “click the link” and provide their personal information. Now is a good time to remind yourself and your associates not to be so quick to click the link when dealing with unsolicited email.

Unsolicited email is the tip of the iceberg in terms of online fraud schemes. A quick Google on “protect personal information” will give you plenty of sites to explore, including several from the Federal Trade Commission, that provide details and reminders about staying safe. For example, the FTC recommends never carrying your social security card in your wallet and to take your outgoing mail (especially the pieces with personal information) to the post office rather than leaving it in your mailbox for pickup. The FTC’s Consumer page is a great place to start (www.consumer.ftc.gov) for reliable free resources.

Finally, if you own a website that collects personal data from clients, now is a good time to reexamine the protections you have in place. Ideas to keep data safe include, keeping anti-virus software up-to-date, protecting passwords (never store as plain text), limiting the amount of data collected in the first place, and training employees to be respectful of this information (if they can access it). A web security professional would have many, many more suggestions for you.

Even if you missed out on celebrating Data Privacy Day on January 28 (which commemorated the 1981 international treaty dealing with data and privacy protection), it’s never too late to take a second look at how you are protecting yourself and your clients.

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