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Does My Employer Need to Protect My Identity?

You provide a lot of personal information to your employer. It begins as soon as you apply and if you are hired, you essentially turn over all identifying information to the company. It’s a risk anytime you share personal information and you must be sure the recipient does everything possible to protect you. Employers must safeguard the personal data of employees and face liability if they fail to do so.

Why are Employers Targeted?

Any organization that stores personal information is a target for cybercriminals. Their goal is to use whatever they gather for their own financial benefit. Criminals also sell the information they’ve stolen. They apply for credit cards, collect fraudulent tax refunds and other crimes with the data.

The information you provide to your employer is incredibly valuable to criminals. This is why it’s so important for employers to safeguard it. Should hackers gain access to data, employers must alert those affected promptly.

What Laws Provide Protection for Employees’ Personal Data?

There are several protections in place that offer protection for employees.

Federally, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act both hold employers liable if something they do or fail to do leads to identity theft. These laws protect consumer info, which includes anything collected during an employment background check.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act protect private health information.

Depending on the circumstances of a breach, a lawyer could use any of these federal laws to argue a case in your favor against your employer.

New York laws protecting employee information further extend the protection available. Most states have laws that impose additional restrictions and requirements regarding the use, storage, and transmission of personal information. Furthermore, there is a movement underway to expand the definition of personal information. It would include not only financial information, but also health information, biometric data, and more.

In 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed two laws into effect that protect employees in that state.

The Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security (SHIELD) Act increases employer obligations for handling private data and requires notification for anyone affected if there is a security breach. The Identity Theft Prevention and Mitigating Services Act requires consumer credit reporting agencies to provide free enrollment into identity theft prevention and mitigation programs to anyone affected by a breach. This provides protection in the event anyone who gained access to your data attempt to use it.

What Should I Expect My Employer to Do to Protect My Information?

At a minimum, employers must adhere to state and federal requirements regarding data storage and handling. They must establish, publish, and enforce a clear policy regarding storage, use, and access to employee data. There should be policies for both electronic and hard copy data.

Additionally, there are things you should do to protect your data, especially when you are searching for a job. Your personal information is at risk as soon as you provide it to a potential employer. Criminals utilize the job search process to their advantage, which is why it’s so important to recognize the risk and do what you can to mitigate it.

Keep your job search information separate from your personal life, especially when it comes to the accounts you set up on job listing sites online. Utilize the privacy settings offered by job search sites. This limits who can see your information and requires a potential employer to contact you for more information. Make sure your resume does not contain any of your data other than contact information. Wait until you are hired to provide an employer with your Social Security Number, date of birth, or financial information.

Finally, keep track of where you submit your resume and make sure any recipient is legitimate. If something about a company seems suspect, it’s better to avoid applying or to contact them directly before sending in your information. The IRS provides additional tips for protecting your identity here.

If your employer puts your personal information at risk or you have any questions about the protection available to employees under New York law, contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C.


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