Handling Sensitive Information

Whether you think about your home or your office (in office or remote office), do you have confidential or sensitive information out in the open?  Easily accessible?  If a visitor were to come near your work area, could information be breached?  Do you have either professional or personal information easily accessible whether it be on paper or electronically?  Could this information be taken without your knowing it until it was too late?

Now may be the time to take a look at how secure this information is.  Do you have paper documentation at least in folders or stored out of sight unless you are working with the same?  If you are going to be away from home and someone will have access in your absence, is this information stored securely?  How about what you put in your recycling container to be picked up on recycling day – is there sensitive information that should be shredded?  If someone were to go through your recycle bin (or workers at the recycling center), could they obtain information about you that should not be seen? 

Perhaps you prefer the electronic methodology of keeping information.  If you work in the office and use a desktop, your IT department most likely has measures in place for security.  But, what if you use a laptop from your company.  Is the data encrypted?  Are USB drives you may use encrypted?  If either were to get into someone’s hands who should not have access, can the files be read, copied or sold?  Are they safe? 

If you use electronic means for personal purposes, how vulnerable is your information?  Do you access sensitive information on unsecure connections?  In hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, even professional offices? 

If you have individuals in your workplace or home to clean, to do repairs, for just a visit, take steps to avoid the compromise of any information – personal or professional.  Don’t become a victim.

We cannot be cautious enough when it comes to sensitive information – professional or personal.  Be wise.  Take precautions.  Don’t be vulnerable. It takes less time to be proactive rather than be reactive if a breach occurs. 

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About the Author

Kay Sowa is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent, an Accredited Estate Planner®, and a Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor. She oversees the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. She is an accomplished author and lecturer who has frequently spoken on behalf of a number of organizations including the National Business Institute and the Institute of Paralegal Education.

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