Here we're talking about invasions of privacy that can happen every day in ways that aren't necessarily illegal. For example, you've just finished a big proposal for a prospective client when your good friend drops by to take you to lunch. You leave the proposal on your desk while you hit the restroom. Your friend thumbs through the proposal and a few weeks later mentions it to a co-worker, who mentions it to someone who works for your competition, who starts targeting your prospect with this new-found insider information. Sounds far-fetched? Not really, this kind of thing happens more than you think.
What can you do to protect yourself? Here are some suggestions:
- Don't leave sensitive documents on your desk if you are not in the room.
- Make sure your file cabinets lock.
- Make sure you have a desk drawer that also locks. A locking cash box or safe will work if your file cabinets don't lock. It can be locked and tucked away somewhere inconspicuous.
- Invest in a shredder to shred any sensitive documents, including rough drafts, client correspondence and the like.
- If you are purchasing a product online, for business or personal use, make sure the site is secure before typing in your credit card number.
- Don't say anything in an email that you wouldn't want copied and spread around.
- Keep your voice low when talking on the phone about sensitive matters, particularly if you work in a cubicle.
- Avoid talking about personal matters on the phone unless you want the entire office to overhear.
- When sending checks, gift certificates and the like through the mail, use privacy envelopes.
- If you want to make sure no one opens an envelope or package except the intended recipient, use tamper-proof packaging that makes it obvious to the recipient that the package was opened.
- Turn off your computer when you leave the office. It won't be as easy for someone to log on and access your information if they have to start the whole system up and enter a password.
- Don't leave cash lying around.
- Don't leave home addresses and phone numbers of other employees, clients or friends on your desk where someone might see them.
- Be careful of fraudulent emails that ask you to click on a link embedded in the email message to update your account information, credit card information or other private data. These are usually not legitimate.
- Do not open attachments to email messages sent to you from someone you don't know. They might contain a worm or virus that would play havoc with your computer system.
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