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Helping Staff Protect Your Family's Sensitive Information

A former employee at SunTrust Bank may have shared the personal information of 1.5 million users with a criminal third-party.

According to the bank, the former employee may have downloaded names, addresses, phone numbers, and account balances, but not social security numbers, account numbers, pins, user IDs, passwords, or driver's license numbers. The employee was not authorized to access customers' personal data.

The organization's CEO said that an internal investigation revealed the attempted download. However, the bank has not discovered any significant fraud activity. The organization is still investigating the matter, but believes the stolen data did not leave the bank.

SunTrust is offering free identity protection services to all of its customers. Aparajita Saxena and Parikshit Mishra "SunTrust says ex-employee may have shared info on 1.5 million clients," (Apr. 20, 2018).

Commentary and Checklist

Unfortunately, family employers could become victims of identity theft without any actions by themselves or their staff.

If you receive notice that your data may have been stolen in a breach, do the following:

  • Accept any identity protection services offered by the bank.
  • Order a free credit report from one of the three credit reporting companies.
  • Examine your financial account records for any unauthorized charges.
  • Have a credit reporting company place a free initial fraud alert on your credit report.

Although you cannot guarantee that everyone will protect your personal information, you can make sure that your staff does not share your data with identity thieves. Require that your staff does not email or text personal information, especially social security or bank account numbers. Make sure your staff understands to only enter sensitive data on encrypted websites.

Conducting business outside of the home creates additional challenges for keeping your data secure. Here are some tips to protect yourself from identity theft when you travel:

  • Leave your social security card, checkbook, bank statements, and other sensitive documents in a safe at home or at the office. Do not carry these items on your person while traveling. They are easy to pickpocket.
  • If you have to travel with sensitive documents, carry them in a money belt or keep them locked in a hotel safe.
  • When using public Wi-Fi, refrain from sending any sensitive data. If you must send it, do so only on a website that you know is encrypted.
  • If using a public computer, always delete all cookies and browsing history before logging off.
  • Only use bank ATMs. Generic ATMs, such as those in hotels or convenience stores, are more accessible to identity thieves who install card readers to steal bankcard numbers.
  • Routinely check your bank accounts for fraud using a secured line or a secured website.
  • Secure the data on smartphones before traveling by making them password-protected, deleting any sensitive information, and logging out of all open apps.
  • Avoid opening any suspicious emails on your computer, phone, or tablet, especially ones that create "urgency" and a need for an immediate response.
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