Part of your business requires gathering personal data about your customers, but how do you make sure that data is stored securely? As part of National Consumer Protection Week, we've put together some key points to remember when dealing with customers' data, via the Better Business Bureau's data security site:
1. Take inventory of everything. Document what information you keep, how you collect it, where you keep it and who has access to it. Make sure you are fully aware of the security measures you have in place and how they work. If you have a clear record of everything, you can better determine what happened if a security breach occurs and quickly take the steps to stop it.
2. Dispose of data correctly. When you don't need something anymore, it's easy to quickly forget it even exists, making it less of a priority. But customers' personal data is still a sensitive, and you need to treat it as such. You should know who is disposing of the data and how it is being disposed of at all times.
3. Communicate your data protection policy to your customers. Make sure your customers know how you are protecting their personal data, but don't be too specific or you'll be giving identity thieves a how-to on breaking in to your system.
4. Know how to spot identity theft. Create a written policy for your business on how to spot identity theft and the actions to take if anyone notices suspicious activity, and make sure every employee knows the policy inside and out. This will help in both spotting identity theft before it happens and quickly putting out any identity theft fires once they happen.
5. Have a plan in case customers' data is stolen. It's never a good idea to be caught off-guard by identity theft. Make sure you have a plan in place in case there is ever a data breach. Know which financial institutions to contact. Notify your legal services as soon as it happens. And, above all, keep up the lines of communications with any customers that might be affected.
If you are looking for a secure place to store all of your customers' data, consider an online backup service. Of the services we reviewed, Mozy and iBackup were some of the best for businesses, and both offer secure, encrypted backup options. To check out the rest of our online backup reviews, click here.
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