Unauthorized Sale Of Personal Information

Unauthorized sale of personal information is a risk we take every time we share our personal information with others. Regardless of whom we share our information with; there is an increased risk of unauthorized sale of personal information or its transfer with each instance of sharing the information. I don’t care if we share the information with the banks, the clerk at the grocery store or the assistant at the doctor’s office, by sharing; we exponentially increase the risk of unauthorized sale of personal information by people we communicated the information to. OK, I agree that the risk level might be different depending on what information we share and with whom, but we have to agree that there is a risk that we have to assume and accept to take. As a consumer, we have to be diligent and aware of how we share our most valuable information, our identity components. One thing to consider is analyze the information, the person, the situation and/or the company you share the information with. Here are a few questions to ask yourself as a consumer:

-Am I communicating too much or too often? One example is the frequency by which people were applying for new mortgages or refinances in late 1990 and early 2000. This was a crazy time in the real estate and the mortgage business. People were applying left and right, sometimes, refinancing many times in the same year as rates kept changing. To make it even worse, people applied with various banks and brokers, sharing their personal information with more and more people and businesses, thus, jeopardizing the protection of their personal information. There were many reported cases of large banks and mortgage companies or rather their employees and brokers, selling, without authorization, rejected applications to smaller mortgage companies who would offer the rejected applicants mortgages with higher rates.

-Do I really need to communicate this information? Always consider the minimum information you need to communicate to complete your business transaction. Question excessive requests for information and understand the business need for the information.

-Is this the right person to share the information with?

-Is this the right place or time to communicate?

-Is this a company I can trust with their information protection policies?

On the other hand, the companies who do business with consumers and collect their personal information must be asking themselves some questions too and take some responsible actions to reduce the risk of unauthorized sale of personal information:

-What consumer information should I collect to be able to achieve my business objectives? In other words, what is the minimum amount of information my business needs? By limiting the amount of information you collect, you reduce the risk of information loss or theft.

-Is there an information protection policy? Is it current and updated? Does it include a clause for severe punishment and consequences for mishandling consumer personal information? Does it clearly communicate the type of consumer information that can be collected by all employees?

-Is everyone aware of this policy? Companies should communicate this policy to their employees and consumers.

-When was the last time employees were trained on proper information handling in accordance with that policy? Companies should train their employees and make sure the staff knows how to implement the policy.

-Does any employee appear to live beyond their means? For example, if your employee makes only $35,000 a year and drives a $90,000 car and owns a $1+ million home, you should investigate further to obtain reasonable assurance that the additional income is from a legitimate source of income and not from the sale of your consumers' personal information. Perform employee background checks for all new hires and thereafter if you suspect your employees.

-Would I know if any of my employees was not honest? Establish a whistleblower line to report dishonest employees and follow-up immediately.

Return from unauthorized sale of personal information to the workplace information protection page.

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