National Data Privacy Day: 8 Tips for Keeping Your Personal Information Safe

Robert M. Duplessis, CRISC, CISM, CBVM, Senior Vice President—Information Security Officer 

January 28 is National Data Privacy Day. Its observance serves as a reminder that maintaining the privacy of your personal information is a year-round responsibility.

What’s at Risk

At the heart of the battle for your privacy is your personally identifiable information (PII). PII is any combination of data points that can lead to your identification. The more information a hacker can pull together on you the easier it becomes to obtain more, with the goal being to steal your identity.

This information may include your email address and full name—data readily available online. But, it also includes your:

  • Social Security number
  • Driver’s license
  • State identification
  • Financial account numbers
  • Medical information
  • Passwords
  • Address
  • Cellphone number

Companies like ours work diligently to protect your privacy and your data. We only collect the information we need to do business with you. We safely dispose of personal information when it is no longer needed. Unless required by law, we do not share your information without your permission or knowledge. (For more on Old Second’s privacy policies, click here.)

Every website, health care provider, insurance and financial company you deal with should have a similar policy. If they don’t or there is something about their policy that makes you uneasy, you should consider doing business elsewhere. However, it isn’t just businesses that collect data you need to be concerned about.

What You Can Do

Protecting your privacy is a shared responsibility. Every time you share your dog’s name or your child’s photo on Facebook, post vacation photos on Instagram or update your new job title on LinkedIn, you are adding to what hackers can find out about you and those you tag. Consider what Alexa and Google Home know! Then, consider how much information would be needed to start guessing your passwords.

The reality is that none of us will stop posting, sharing or using products that enhance our daily lives. What we can do, however, is take some precautions before we do. Here are some things to consider adding to your regular routine that can help safeguard your PII and that of your family members and friends.

  1. Revisit your social media settings. Make sure you know who you are sharing information with and whether you really want to. Also consider living less “in the moment.” Share photos and locations after you’ve left them.
  2. Tag only with permission. Not everyone wants their location and activities broadcast or their children’s names made public. Be respectful of the privacy of others.
  3. Manage your passwords. Change them regularly and refrain from using one to access everything. Many companies and services now use double authentication options. Consider opting into them.
  4. Monitor your credit reports. Whether your information was involved in a data breach or not, take advantage of your ability to order a report for free from each of the three reporting agencies each year. A credit-monitoring service, while an added expense, also may be warranted if your information was hacked, since hackers do not necessarily use your information right away. They may sit on it until your free year of monitoring is up.
  5. Keep your software and apps current. Updates and patches are intended to address vulnerabilities in the system. Also, uninstall apps and programs you no longer use. Hackers could use them as back doors into your system.
  6. Check your credit and debit card charges regularly. As soon as you see something odd, call your card issuer and cancel your card. Replacement cards arrive within days.
  7. Use caller ID. Every piece of information, including your voice, is fodder for scammers. If someone calls you and you don’t recognize the number or the caller’s name, do not feel compelled to pick up. Often, by entering the number in a Google search, you can confirm it was a fraudulent call.
  8. Refrain from clicking through links in emails. While legitimate companies provide links for convenience, you are better off signing onto your online account the way you typically do, just to be safe, or calling the customer service number you have on file for them.

For more tips and information on keeping your personal information safe, we maintain a variety of resources on our website. Also, feel free to call 877-866-0202 . We are always happy to talk through your concerns, privately.

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