How often do you use your credit or debit card – at the point of sale or during an online transaction? Is your accounting information stored with any businesses where you have automatic payments set-up or make regular purchases? If you stop to think about it, you have sensitive information bouncing all over a series of digital channels. Of course, you take precautions when you’re at home or on your phone, whether by utilizing virus protection software or being careful not to use public Wi-Fi with apps that could compromise your personal data. You’re aware of the dangers of phishing and vishing, along with the myriad of other scams that seem to appear daily in an attempt to separate you from your money and information.
We often take for granted that the companies with which we transact business are doing everything in their power to keep our data safe. But then, hackers and cybercriminals are relentless, continually looking for cracks in every system. No organization wants to be subjected to any kind of data breach. The brand damage can often lead to irreparable harm to the company, from which it may never recover, leading to a loss of profits and jobs.
The reputational risk associated with mishandling customer data is devastating for any company. Even still, governments across the globe have stepped up in the technology age to enhance legislation, ensuring that businesses comply with all the regulations that are in place to keep our information protected.
Personally Identifiable Information or PII is the crux of the issue. PII is any piece of data that can be used to identify an individual like name, social security number, passport number, bank account number, and so forth. Seemingly benign details like age or city of residence can become PII when enough pieces of information are collected with the potential to narrow down a specific person.
In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission or FTC is responsible for protecting consumers. They offer guidelines to help businesses keep customer and employee information secure. Organizations should be aware of what kind of data they have, ensure they only keep information that they have a legitimate reason to collect, enact a series of controls to keep the data safe, understand how to safely dispose of any sensitive information, and finally have a plan in case the unthinkable does happen. Also, legislation like the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act has been passed to hold companies accountable for safeguarding sensitive data.
The European Union also addresses privacy concerns through the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR. Any company that does business with an EU resident has to abide by the rules dictated by the regulations, and any breaches or violations will incur serious fines. The GDPR expands on the nature of PII, which is necessitated by the growth of technology, including an individual’s login IDs and social media posts. Sectors like the payment industry work to stay compliant to keep both their clients and consumers safe. For example, online merchants using an e-payment service like https://powercash21.com/ can conduct business with customers knowing that they are partnering with like-minded companies to safeguard personal data.
If you overthink any situation, it can be frightening. Of course, the threats to our personal information are ongoing, but fortunately, cybersecurity efforts are looking to combat them on every front. Continue to keep an eye on your transactions, and be wary of making purchases from suspect merchants if you’re using a credit card. You can’t go through life too skittish to enjoy yourself, but you do have to exercise some common sense.