Can government agencies be trusted with your personal data?

It seems as if hardly a day goes by without a news report of another security breach that’s resulted in the exposure of vital personal information. In some cases it’s only email addresses or other contact info, and although it’s plenty annoying to have your address fall into the hands of spammers, it’s not nearly as bad as what happens in other cases, when credit card numbers, bank account numbers and supposedly confidential identifying information such as social security numbers and driver’s license numbers is not properly secured by the entities with which we do business.

We’re all familiar with incidents such as the one involving T. J. Maxx, and the recent RSA breach. But when we’re dealing with private companies like those, at least we have a choice about whether or not to give them our personal information. What’s even more frustrating is when the government – which in many cases requires you, by law, to provide your personal info – then doesn’t adequately protect that information. We’ve seen that happen over and over, from local municipalities to federal agencies. Just this past week, the State Comptroller of Texas revealed that social security numbers and other personal data of more than 3.5 million Texas citizens had been exposed for almost a full year on a publicly accessible website.

Business have to deal with government agencies on a regular basis, but don’t assume the information that you give them about your company and your employees is kept safe.

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