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Protect cell-phone data; train employees on new threats

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in Small Business Tax

Take steps now to safeguard your cellphone data and that of your employees. Reason: It’s now easy for unscrupulous data brokers to obtain and sell the name and address connected to a cell-phone number, plus the complete record of outgoing and incoming calls. That can expose business relationships, sensitive contacts and more.

Wireless carriers have begun to fight these predators in court. Cingular recently won an injunction against But others are out there, such as

Congress is considering bills to criminalize the illegal acquisition and marketing of wireless phone records. And wireless providers are under pressure to tighten up their privacy. For now, you’ll need to guard against this risk, especially if your sales team or other employees carry company cell phones.

Advise employees not to assume that cell-phone details are private. Then, implement these steps to reduce the chances of others gaining access to your phone records:

1. Contact your cell-phone carrier and request that certain call details be removed from your bills. Perhaps the numbers called can be only partially identified. Also, tell the company you want to “opt out” of third-party marketing, known in the business as “CPNI sharing.”

2. Place a password on the accounts. Don’t use commonly known information. Te l l your phone carrier not to provide password reminders.

3. Deactivate online access to your account (by notifying your carrier), if it’s feasible for your business. Online information brokers often obtain cell-phone records by tapping into online accounts that customers haven’t activated.

4. Press your cell company to notify you when or if your records have been accessed.

Currently, none of the cell carriers have such a policy, so breaches go unnoticed until problems surface.

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