Since companies have to maintain payrolls, collecting and maintaining personal information about their employees is unavoidable. In addition to their current staff members, employers also must retain records on former employees for a period of time.
If you’ve been in business for a long time, you could have boxes of old personnel files in storage somewhere. The data in those files can make your business and its employees an attractive target for identity thieves. Whether personnel files are current or old, electronic or paper, they could provide a treasure trove of information to scammers who are able to access them.
Take an objective look at your company’s data security to see where you may be vulnerable. Are your personnel records kept in a locked office? If so, who has a key? Where are old files kept? Records of former employees should never be put in a general storage area where prying eyes can find them. Make it a priority to find a storage place — perhaps a lockable closet — that can be secured with limited access. Here are some other tips to help prevent identity theft:
- Properly destroy files when you’re no longer required to keep them.
- Instruct staff members who handle sensitive documents (for example, copies of Social Security cards, driver licenses and bank account numbers) to never leave them unguarded, such as on a desk, fax machine, copier or on a computer screen that unauthorized individuals can see.
It’s critical to set stringent policies and go over them regularly with staff members who have access to your computer systems. It may only take one hastily opened email message for your entire system to be compromised. Here are some other steps you can take.
- Check with your technology manager to make sure you have the right protections in place to secure your systems and keep those protections updated.
- Meet with your staff regularly to warn them about scams you’re aware of and remind them that new, seemingly legitimate threats pop up every day. Instruct them to never to click links or open attachments in questionable messages and to report them to a supervisor.
Why Outsourcing Payroll Provides Protection
While no system is foolproof, reputable payroll companies maintain a tight focus on information security, which is one reason why many businesses outsource this function. Here are just some of the security-related advantages of outsourcing payroll:
- Only necessary information is collected.
- Records (paper and electronic) are destroyed on a timely basis, once there is no longer a legal requirement to keep them, in accordance with the Fair and Accurate Records Retention Act.
- Access to employee information is strictly limited to those who need it
- Data is encrypted.
- Systems are password protected, with verification processed to further limit access.