Data Privacy & Protection Day: January 28, 2017
January 25, 2017 By Signator Investors
Trust. It is the foundation of a financial professional’s business. Trust can be hard to earn and easy to loose, and one of the quickest ways to lose the trust of your clients is to have their personal information compromised.
In celebration of Data Privacy Day on January 28, here are some quick tips to help financial professionals protect the personal information clients entrust to them.
In Your Office
- Electronic communications can be a very easy and convenient way of communicating with clients. But be careful—email can easily be hacked. To add security, be sure all communications with confidential information are encrypted.
- Be sure your office staff is educated about privacy policies and aware of the internal safeguards in place to protect the privacy of non-public information. This is especially important if you hire an intern or temporary employee who may not be as familiar with your requirements.
- Your office computer and devices should have a feature that automatically “locks” it after a period of inactivity. Whether you forget to “lock” your computer if you walk away from it, or have an unexpected meeting, this feature will help protect information that resides on your devices from the prying eyes. Protect the data your computer holds by enabling this feature.
- Lock it up! Securely store all documents containing customer data by keeping this information in a protected workplace or locked and secure file cabinet.
- In the event that client records can be discarded, dispose of them in proper shredding facilities or use a secure document destruction container that is serviced by a reputable document destruction vendor.
- Verify the email addresses for your clients. Even if you regularly receive email correspondence from your clients, you cannot assume that every communication you receive is actually from the sender. Many clients are unaware their email accounts have been compromised and could be perceived as operating correctly. If you receive an odd or suspicious email from someone, follow-up with a phone call verifying their request. DO NOT process requests or continue to respond to unfamiliar emails.
Outside your office
- Be aware that simple casual conversations can be heard by anyone. You never know who may be listening and how they intend to use the information. While a coffee shop may be a convenient place to meet and discuss financial affairs, these places can be deceiving as phishers and scammers are always looking for their next victim. Never use public or “open” wireless connections to review private financial or otherwise personal data. Always meet in a private conference area where you know conversations can be kept private.
- Take a personal inventory of all the items you brought to meet with your client and ensure you retrieve all these items upon leaving. This includes paperwork, computer/laptop/tablet and any other electronic storage devices such as data disks and storage drives.
- Don’t leave files or devices in your car. It only takes a moment for thieves to break in and take these valuable items.
Financial professionals work hard to build trusting relationships with their clients. At Signator, we are committed to helping financial professionals take protective steps to help protect their clients and their businesses. We provide a wide variety or training and resources to help you keep the trust you have worked so hard to earn. To learn more about Data Privacy Day, and access other tips for securing information, be sure to visit staysafeonline.org.
Rebecca Babbitt is a Senior Compliance Consultant at Signator Investors, Inc.