bbbData privacy concerns seem to make headlines almost daily and recent security breaches at top retailers have consumers concerned about identify theft. To help businesses protect consumer information and their brand, Better Business Bureau® (BBB) highlights key points on how to safeguard privacy.

When it comes to safeguarding privacy, BBB encourages businesses to protect any data collected against mishandling and fraud, collect personal information only as needed, and respect the preferences of customers regarding the use of their information.

As outlined in BBB’s Standards for Trust, to safeguard privacy, businesses are encouraged to:

Respect Privacy – Businesses conducting e-commerce should disclose the following on their website:

  • What information they collect

  • With whom it is shared

  • How it can be corrected

  • How it is secured

  • How policy changes will be communicated

  • How to address concerns over misuse of personal data

Secure Sensitive Data –  Sensitive data such as credit card, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, salary, medical history or records, etc., should be transmitted via secure means. Businesses should make best efforts to comply with industry standards for the protection and proper disposal of all sensitive data, both on and offline.

Honor Customer Preferences – Businesses should respect customer preferences regarding contact by telephone, fax and e-mail, and agree to remedy the underlying cause of any failure to do so.

BBB also recommends the following additional safety measures:

  • Block potential intruders.  Restrict computer use to business-only purposes. Use up-to-date antivirus protection and firewalls.  Run full scans for virus and spam detection at least once a week.

  • Consider investing in higher-level security software for more sensitive information.  Never store sensitive information on portable storage devices (USB drives, CDs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) as these can be lost or stolen.  If you must store information on portable devices, be sure the devices are secured and information is encrypted.

  • Use strong passwords.  Never use default passwords.  Use strong passwords that include a combination of numbers, letters and symbols. Change passwords every 45 to 60 days.

For companies creating or reviewing current privacy policies, BBB provides a step-by-step guide, “Data Security Made Simpler,” at It’s simple to read, simple to process and offers simple ways to get your data security house in order.