4 Steps to Protect Customer Information

More fallout for the country’s second-largest health insurer, Anthem, after the company announced a massive data breach in early February potentially affecting 80 million of its customers. In Nebraska alone, more than 100,000 affected residents are being notified of the breach via mail. Experts now say the cyber-attack could be far worse than previous breaches affecting retail and home improvement stores. That’s because thieves were after personal information including Social Security numbers.

Consumers expect businesses—both large and small—to protect their information. Plus, it’ the law. So what steps are necessary to minimize your risk of a breach and secure your customer’s information? Hacker stealing data from a laptop

  • Understand what customer information is collected and how it’s stored. This will vary depending on the type of business and service provided. The Better Business Bureau suggests small businesses sit down with all parties involved to take inventory on this information. Create a checklist of what types of information is collected and where it is stored.
  • Establish clear protocols. Create a written security policy to ensure a business and its employees understand how to handle sensitive data and are in compliance with the rules and regulations surrounding destroying it.  
  • Contract out your shredding needs. In-house shredding is neither secure nor an efficient way to handle sensitive customer information. That’s why it’s a good idea to contract with a reputable shredding company that is certified by the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) when it comes to sensitive information—whether it’s printed on paper or saved to a hard drive.
  • Provide transparency. Give customers peace of mind on how their information is used, stored, protected and destroyed by your business. Also, provide useful information on how they can take steps to monitor their account and to implement their own fraud alert. Consumers are entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the three major credit bureaus by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. In addition, the three major credit bureaus’ contact information includes:
    • Equifax (800-525-6285)
    • Experian (888-397-3742)
    • TransUnionCorp (800-680-7289)

In the long run, providing your customers this heightened level of security will save time and money.

What do you think? We’d like to know.

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