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HR could use better PR.   Say "human resources" and some people think of Dunder Mifflin’s joy-deficient Toby Flenderson from "The Office."  But you know better and appreciate the job your HR team does to keep your organization up and running.  They're also a critical line of defense between your company and the onslaught of data thieves and scammers.  The BCP Business Center has a special page to make their job a little easier.

Why should HR be a part of your data security efforts?  Think about what's in their files and on their computers:   W2 forms, health records, insurance information, and the like.  High-profile hack attacks grab the headlines, but consider the effect on morale if a lost laptop or stolen folder compromises an employee’s Social Security number.  As a longtime leader in information security, the FTC has bread-and-butter resources to help companies develop data security policies suited to their size and line of work.  Protecting Personal Information:  A Guide for Business and the accompanying online tutorial is one place to start.

Of course, data security is every employee’s job.  Whether it’s the mail room staff knowing to send sensitive paperwork by the safest method or the CEO who could use the occasional reminder not to email a confidential memo over an unsecured wireless network, everyone has a role to play — including your HR department, which is often the contact point for new hires.  Work with them to incorporate data security into your orientation program.  Rather than starting from scratch, check out our Privacy & Security page for materials you can adapt.

If an employee has been the victim of identity theft, HR may be the proverbial canary in the coal mine.  Staffers may turn to them if someone has used their health insurance to get treatment or if a tax problem tips them off to ID theft trouble.  Studies suggest that people have to spend days — or months — detangling the mess that fraudsters can make of their lives.  Your HR team can help employees get back on track by referring them to the FTC’s step-by-step guide, Taking Charge:  What to Do if Your Identity Has Been Stolen.  Our ID Theft page offers sample letters and forms to help pave the road to recovery.

HR’s role in the hiring process also highlights a place where FTC resources could lend a hand.  Nowadays many businesses do background checks on job applicants or employees up for promotion.   Is your HR department complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act?  Using Consumer Reports:  What Employers Need to Know offers guidance on how businesses may use reports.  Disposing of Consumer Report Information? New Rule Tells How explains your legal obligation to get rid of reports in a way that will reduce the risk they’ll wind up in the hands of a fraudster.

Speaking of background checks, how can you be sure an applicant's pedigree is what she claims?  The FTC provides tips on how HR departments can Avoid Fake-Degree Burns by Researching Academic Credentials.

With all they do for you, it’s time to return the favor by forwarding the Business Center's Human Resources page to your favorite HR rep.

Next:  Resources for your administrative staff


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
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