The Federal Trade Commission estimates more than 27 million Americans became victims of identity theft in the past five years.
Check your practices against those below to decide whether you're doing all you should to protect your colleagues, clients—and yourself—from identity theft at work.
__ If I must ask clients for personal information, I do so in a location where they can't be overheard.
__ I don't leave messages with confidential information on voice mail, unless I received prior permission from the recipient, and notify the recipient in advance if I must fax confidential information, so it won't sit unattended on a machine.
__ I'm alert to "pretext calling," in which an identity thief poses as a customer, high-level employee or even a law enforcement officer to extract information over the phone.
__ When preparing information for public distribution, I remove or mask nonessential information about people.
__ I keep personnel files in a locked location and shred any papers with confidential information.
__ I use special programs to wipe the data off disks or a computer that's being replaced, because deleting files doesn't truly erase them.
__ When arranging for a temporary worker who will handle sensitive information, I ensure that person passes a .
__ No one can use my computer to access confidential information. Files with personal information are password protected and/or encrypted. My screen saver automatically logs the computer off after a few minutes of inactivity. A privacy screen bars viewing my monitor from an angle.
__ I don't base passwords on my birth date, Social Security number, phone number or Mom's name.
__ I'm aware of co-workers or clients who may be "shoulder surfing," watching me work at my computer while they chat, potentially viewing information.
__ I don't publicly display an employee badge that includes my Social Security number.
__ I don't put outgoing personal mail in an unsecured location, such as a basket with other outgoing office mail.
__ I don't carry credit cards, my Social Security card or other personal information that I don't need every day, and I keep my wallet or purse in a locked location.