Be Cautious, Not Careless

| Written by Arlyn VCD Palisoc Romualdo

There’s no denying that we live in a digital world. Some of us check our emails or social media accounts upon getting up in the morning. We upload pictures and videos of where we are, what we are doing, or who we are with. The truth is, however, when it comes to personal information, sharing is not always such a good thing.

The National Privacy Commission has some useful tips in protecting our data online, but there are still things we do off the internet that can potentially compromise our information.

Here are some of the other ways you can protect your personal data, offline and online:

1. A chance to get freebies or discounts is something most of us cannot resist. See those little fishbowls or trays in restaurants asking for your business card so you can get treats? Think twice before dropping in your card. Remember, if it was not hard for you to put your business card in there, then it would be just as easy for someone else to get it.


2. It seems the need for photocopying services will not be going away just yet. Do not leave your documents on the scanner or do not forget to retrieve them if you had someone copy the documents for you. Make sure you destroy any spoiled copies where your information is visible. Some photocopying service providers may not allow you to do that, so block those pieces of information with a pen or marker instead. It may seem like such a hassle, but it is for your own security.


3. Sometimes you are asked for a copy of your debit or credit card. Do not copy the back of your card because the security code is printed there. Online payment gateways require this security code so if anyone gets hold of yours without your knowledge, you may end up paying for things you never bought. If you are being asked for a copy of both the front and back of your card, tell the requesting party that you will need to cover the security code.


4. Great service? Awful product? If your hand is itching to write on that feedback form, do not be so liberal with your personal information. You do not need to fill out all the fields, just what is necessary to get your message across. They do not need to know your home address nor your home number.


5. More and more shops are offering rewards programs for its customers and if they are your go-to stores, chances are you will be asked to fill out application forms ASAP. Just make sure you only put in the information required. Read the fine print. Do you want them to send you emails or text alerts? Do you want to be automatically enrolled in some third party services? Make sure you understand what you are signing up for.


6. Not everyone has a printer at home. Others need to avail of printing services. Do not allow the service provider to download your files. Do not agree to email the file to them for printing. If you are using a flash drive to have documents printed, scan it on a secure computer after it was plugged into a public terminal to ensure no malicious software infected the drive. Check your computer settings to see that it is not set to autoplay any drive plugged into it.


7. If you need to use a public computer, in the library or in a computer rental shop, for example, and you need to either save, send via email, or print your document, always check the location it was saved in. Delete the file if it was stored in the public computer and empty the recycle bin after deletion. Additionally, erase your browsing data, making sure to include passwords and autofill forms among the options to delete. It is important to note that you should never save passwords on any computer.


8. In the same manner, do not write down passwords, PIN codes, or anything that will allow access to your personal data, accounts, records, and communication. If you feel you might forget your access codes and want to write them down, keep them in a secure location, under lock and key, and away from prying eyes. If you really need to share these codes with someone else because you are unable to access your accounts (e.g., when you’re sick), change your codes the first chance you get.


9. Read privacy notices and policies of establishments and offices that you are giving your personal information to. Know what they are and are not allowed to do with your data. This way, it will be easier for you to lodge a complaint if you find your information was misused and handled improperly.


10. Ask your friends and relatives not to give away your personal information without your consent. With the Data Privacy Act of 2012, offices that hold your information usually have protocols in place when someone other than yourself is requesting your personal data. But things are a bit more relaxed when it comes to friends and family, so do tell them that you are not comfortable having any of your personal information being passed on to others without your permission.

The bottom line is, be careful. Know how to secure your data. Before you can expect anyone else, even the law, to protect you and your information, you need to secure it yourself. Neglecting to do so may be construed as consent.


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