This is a guest post by Oliver Emms
Protecting your customers’ personal information is not only good for them but it is protecting your company from possible litigation and liability. It is the responsibility of every business that collects data of a personal nature to ensure that information is –
- Used with integrity and only for the purpose the customer intended and consented to
- Is not shared with other companies without the knowledge and consent of the customer
- Collects only the information required to complete the requested transaction or purpose
- Safeguards the data by insulating it to only the employees that need it to do their job
- Protects it against unauthorized access or theft by any third party
Failing to maintain these minimal standards will cause your customers to lose confidence and trust and you to lose their business. Aside from potential loss of future business, there are substantial financial reasons to maintain strict protocols on methods to handle personal data collected.
- Major Credit Card companies can and will remove your merchant privileges if they get reports of inadequate security.
- PayPal will close your account and hold you liable for transactions resulting from a lapse.
- You will be exposed to lawsuits if your processes result in identity theft of a client.
- You as a company are responsible for the actions of your employees if they mishandle data.
- In many jurisdictions laws may subject you to criminal penalties.
The most basic procedures involve internet security. You must maintain up to date software and firewalls to prevent hacking of your database. For the most sensitive data such as credit card numbers and bank account information it is best to not store it at all after a transaction is completed in any format accessible by the internet. In all cases it needs to be encrypted while stored on your computers.
Most issues occur during the transfer of data online. As a rule, anything more detailed than name and email address should only be collected over a secure (SSL) encrypted connection with 128 bit encryption. Email is not secure and you should never solicit for personal information to be submitted by email or through your website ‘contact us’ form.
Many businesses find it more practical to hire an outside payment company to process credit card payments and electronic checks. This will insulate them from the need of constantly updating software and firewalls and protect them from unauthorized misuse of a customer’s information by an employee.
While much of the focus is on digital security a very large percentage of companies have printed receipts and invoices used in transactions or for processing phone payments. It is just as important to protect that. Simply throwing it away is not sufficient.
Even offices with a paper shredder are at risk. There are many different qualities of paper shredders from straight shredders to crosscut shredders. The issue is in company employee compliance as well to ensure every paper is shredded.
For reliable Datashred services you should use a professional company to handle all paper disposal. By enacting appropriate protocols you protect yourself. By advertising and sharing your strict policies you gain customer confidence and loyalty resulting in increased business.
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Personal Finance For People Who Hate Personal Finance (Kindle Edition) tagged...
16 Jan 2013 at 6:10am
Personal Finance For People Who Hate Personal Finance (Kindle Edition)
By Gregory Bresiger
Buy new: $2.99
Customer tags: finance(717), budgeting(696), investing(688), financial planning(645), business(638), debt(621), stock market(612), wealth(602), money market(537), gregory bresiger(507), kindle authors(162), kindleboards authors(141)