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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection | article

To Protect Your Identity, Keep It Professional in the Workplace

Some individuals spend more time in the office than they do at home with their own families. If you are one of these dedicated individuals, this probably means that you have developed strong relationships with your co-workers. As something of a surrogate family, you may feel trusting of these people since you spend the majority of your day working alongside them. But when it comes to sharing personal details with fellow employees, how much information is too much? At what point are you not only crossing a professional boundary, but also putting yourself at risk for identity theft?

It's important to remember that the office is pretty much a public space. This means that conversations you have with others out in the open are far from private and can easily be overheard by anyone nearby. The same is true for documents you leave laying around on your desk, especially if you share your space with others.

Some topics are not appropriate for workplace chats
To help protect your privacy, be as discreet as possible when you're gathered around the water cooler. Someone walking by could pick up clues from the conversation that could compromise your privacy and maybe even lead to identity theft. Avoid talking about online shopping you may be doing on the job, for example, because this informs listeners that your credit or debit information was entered at some point on your computer. If you haven't cleared your history or deleted any confirmation emails, an opportunistic coworker may snoop through your desktop and look for this information.

Keep money out of the conversation
Don't discuss financial matters at all with people in your workplace if you don't have to. Should someone else working in the office overhear that you have been banking at work or taking care of bills, this will also alert them to the sensitive information that may still be on your hard drive.

Best practices dictate not only being discretionary with the topics you discuss with coworkers, but also making sure you only conduct personal business on your home computer. If you do partake in online banking or do any shopping, clear your history as often as possible.

January 21-25 is Clean Out Your Inbox Week, so take this opportunity to rid your work email of any information that could potentially make you vulnerable to identity theft. Information including your Social Security number, bank account numbers or a date of birth could put your credit score at risk if a thief uses this data to open up accounts in your name.

Although you may feel safe and comfortable in your workplace, you do want to keep the environment professional so your identity isn't at risk. You may also want to invest in an identity monitoring service to help stay aware of changes to your accounts and more.