How to Protect Yourself: Data Security
How to Protect Yourself: Data SecuritySource: The Florida Attorney General's Office
The Florida Information Protection Act of 2014 was passed to better protect Floridians’ personal information by ensuring that businesses and government entities take reasonable measures to protect personal information and report data breaches to affected consumers.
Understand Florida’s Information Protection Act.
The bill includes the following protections:
- Requires proper notice to be provided to consumers within 30 days unless good cause is shown for an additional 15 day delay;
- Requires proper notice to be provided to the Office of the Attorney General for a breach affecting 500 or more individuals;
- Expands the definition of personal information to include health insurance, medical information, financial information and online account information, such as security questions and answers, email addresses and passwords;
- Defines what information must be included in a proper notice;
- Expands the statute to cover state governmental entities and their instrumentalities;
- Requires businesses and state government entities to take reasonable measures to protect data;
- Requires the Office of the Attorney General to provide an annual report to the Legislature regarding data breaches of governmental entities; and
- Authorizes enforcement actions under Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act for any statutory violations.
Protect your personal information.
While there is no guaranteed way for consumers to guard against a data breach, there are steps they can take to lessen the odds of becoming a breach victim. Create strong passwords by using a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters. Additionally, when asked to choose a security question, choose the question that would be most difficult for someone to guess the answer.
Limit the number of companies that possess personal information.
The chance that a consumer’s personal information could be gained in a data breach increases with the number of firms that have access to their information. Before signing up with a service, weigh the benefits of the service against the amount of personal information that is requested. Always read privacy statements to determine how personal information will be used and whether it will be sold to third parties. Additionally, before sharing personal information such as a Social Security number at the workplace, a business, a school or a doctor’s office, ask why it is needed, how it will be secured and the consequences if not provided.
Consider these additional tips to protect personal information.
Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. Companies may allow a user to provide an additional email address or cellphone number where they will send a code to verify that the user is attempting to access his or her account. Be cautious about sharing on social media. Consider keeping accounts private and never post information such as account numbers, addresses or phone numbers. Additionally, consider opting out of prescreened and preapproved offers from credit cards and other firms. Consumers may opt out permanently or for a period of five years. Consumers may opt back in at any time. To opt out, visit www.optoutprescreen.com.
You may also file a complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which acts as the State's consumer complaint clearinghouse, at www.floridaconsumerhelp.com.