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April 15, 2009 > City adopts identity theft policy

City adopts identity theft policy

By Simon Wong

Hayward residents' personal information will be safer now that the City is enhancing measures to prevent identity theft.

The City maintains customer accounts for water, sewer, loan programs and other services. ID theft most often occurs when accounts are opened or restored, payments are made, or services are transferred.

To combat the growing crime of ID theft, the Fair & Accurate Credit Transactions Act 2003 addresses accuracy, privacy, information sharing and consumers' rights to disclosure.

Recent amendments require all US utilities and municipalities to adopt an ID theft prevention program using "red flags" as alerts. A red flag is a trend or activity indicative of possible ID theft, such as questionable documents and/or suspicious personal identifying information.

Hayward's recently adopted Identity Theft Prevention Program and Policy incorporate federal red-flag rules, which will help staff detect ID theft and prevent or mitigate its effects on the victim.

Electronic security measures include anti-virus and anti-spyware programs, secure connections, passwords, restricted laptop use, firewalls, data encryption, and monitoring incoming and outgoing traffic for data breaches. Only employees who need to maintain customer accounts can access personal, identifying information.

Locked cabinets house all documents and electronic storage devices containing sensitive data. Computer drives and disks will be erased with Department of Defense-compliant software. Paper, tapes, CDs and DVDs will be shredded or incinerated when no longer required.

The City will also evaluate security practices of third-party service providers whose activities are subject to red-flag procedures.

The program, which must be implemented by May 1, will be reviewed annually.

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