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Officials press personal info protection

By | Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs | Nov. 29, 2012

Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas — Personally identifying information is information that directly identifies an individual, such as names, addresses, social security numbers, home or cell phone numbers, or e-mail addresses. Inadequate protection can result in identity theft.

"People should never leave PII items such as performance reports, recall or alpha rosters in an area that could result in their loss or theft," Karen Frey, JBSA Privacy Act officer, said. "Additionally, once you're done with this type of information and need to dispose of it, don't just throw it in the trash. Destroy the material by shredding it so personal data is not recognizable and is beyond reconstruction, or place it in an approved, locked recycle bin."

The Air Force has mandated "for official use only" and PII information sent via email must be signed and encrypted, and "FOUO" must be included in the subject line, e.g., "FOUO - Recall Roster." In addition, the following Privacy Act statement should be placed at the beginning of the email message, "The information herein is For Official Use Only (FOUO) which must be protected under the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended. Unauthorized disclosure or misuse of this PERSONAL INFORMATION may result in criminal and/or civil penalties."

"People should not indiscriminately apply this statement to all emails," Frey said. "Use it only in situations when you are actually transmitting personal information for official purposes within the government."

People who witness unauthorized disclosure of PII should report it immediately to their supervisor or another person in their chain of command. Additionally, all PII breaches must be reported to the JBSA Privacy Act officer.

"Everyone is at risk of becoming a victim of identity theft and must be diligent in protecting PII information," Frey said. "The monetary and emotional cost of repairing an individual's identity can be expensive, requiring years to recover.

"Always keep in mind, if you aren't watching what you throw away, someone else probably is."

For information about acquiring secure recycling bins for your office, PII training or commander's call presentations, call Frey at 420-0159.