WORKPLACE / JUN. 07, 2014
version 4, draft 4

How to Send a Fax Containing Sensitive Information

Within the career world, information is constantly being exchanged. With all the advances in technology, it's easier to communicate than ever. Various locations exchange information everyday, allowing for more productive business. 

Included in these exchanges, are files with sensitive information. It is important to be conscious of your actions while faxing sensitive information. You may compromise areas within the business, or accidentally expose personal information. 

Why Sending Sensitive Information via Fax is a Concern

  • Location: Some businesses keep their fax machine out in the open. This may cause someone walking by to view important details that they're not supposed to see.
  • Misdialed Numbers: There have been numerous cases of sensitive information being sent to the wrong location. This is due to numbers being dialled incorrectly.
  • Wrong Recipient: This may be due to location as mentioned above, or unauthorised people using the fax machine. Sensitive information should not be viewed by people who are not authorised to do so.

Information to Avoid Faxing

If possible, there's certain information that should not be faxed at all. Think about it this way, what information are you not comfortable disclosing over the phone? This same information should avoid be faxed as well. This may include:

  • Health Information: This may be personal ailments you're suffering from, or personal information regarding your health card for example.
  • Financial Information: Avoid sending anything that is of financial importance. You will not want to disclose balances to the wrong recipient. This also includes information such as credit card numbers. 
  • Your Identity: It's best if you do not include personal identity information. This may be the number on your identity card for instance. 

Basically, the most private areas of your life and business should not be faxed. You never know who may pick up your fax on the receiving end. 

Tips for Sending Sensitive Information via Fax

  • If you're faxing information about an employee, try to use identification numbers. If it's possible to use numbers instead of someone's name, this is ideal. Perhaps you have codes that represent each employee, these are perfect to use if the receiving end has the required information.
  • Do not send more information than you need to. This is definitely an instance of less being more. As long as the required information is included, there's no need to add anything else.
  • If you're targeting a specific person to receive the fax, give them a heads up. Call them prior to sending the fax, that way they can physically receive it.
  • Include a fax cover sheet explaining the situation. Explain that the following message is confidential, and is intended for a specific person. Let the receiver know that they should contact the number provided if they received a fax by mistake.
  • Triple check the number. Misdialing one number could cause you immense issues. Take your time inputting the number, and then check it over multiple times.
  • Only send your document via fax if necessary. If the details need to be sent urgently, or across a long distance then that will be necessary. However, if it's not necessary, then you can deliver the information by hand.
  • Keep your fax machine in a private, secure location. This will help to keep information confidential. It's most beneficial if both parties keep their fax machine secure.
  • Some fax machines allow you to enter a password for the receiver. This helps to ensure the right person is receiving the information. You will only give the password to the person you intend to contact.

Although technology has made our lives easier, we need to be careful when sending sensitive information. Make sure you're taking the necessary precautions. Sensitive information needs to be protected. Once a fax leaves your location, you need to be sure that the correct person receives it. 

Photo credit: Flickr

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