IMCOM urges privacy awareness
May 9, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 9, 2013) -- In a world where people seem constantly connected to one another by social networking and social media sites, privacy seems a luxury that is hard to come by, but Fort Rucker is working to ensure that people know the importance of privacy.
May kicks off the Installation Management Command Privacy Act Campaign, which is designed to raise awareness about identity theft and personally identifiable information violations, said Lillian Yance, Directorate of Human Resourses administrative services division onsite manager.
The Privacy Act of 1974 protects records that can be retrieved by personal identifiers such as name, Social Security number or any other identifying number or symbol, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.
"People on Fort Rucker are pretty well educated on the subject of privacy, but once in a while there is a problem with it," she said. "When there is a Privacy Act breach, a lot of work goes into having to correct the action."
The intent of the campaign is to have fewer privacy act violations and incidents across IMCOM and the Army by bringing awareness to the forefront, and although Yance said Fort Rucker hasn't had an incident in quite some time, it's still necessary for this type of awareness so that people remain vigilant.
Brochures that hit on issues such as identity theft, scams, copier security and Internet privacy will be available to people on the installation at the post exchange, commissary and Bldg. 5700 atrium.
The installation also hosts monthly Privacy Act Training at the post theater to help safeguard PII, whether it be their own, or others they come in contact with, said Yance.
PII is any information about in individual maintained by an agency that includes things like their name, Social Security number, date of birth, education or medical history, according to Phaedra Lecuyer, privacy act officer.
Lecuyer teaches the Privacy Act training sessions at the post theater that educate participants on the act, explain what privacy means and give an overview of the importance of protecting PII.
When handling PII, she said that it must always be treated as "for official use only," and must be marked as such. During the training, Lecuyer also goes over the dos and don'ts of sharing, transporting and disposing of PII.
Proper disposal methods include burning, melting, chemical decomposition, pulping, pulverizing, shredding, mutilation, degaussing, and deleting and emptying the recycling bin on a computer.
There are serious consequences to mishandling PII, including a conviction of a misdemeanor and a fine up to $5,000, said the privacy act officer, adding the civil penalties may also apply, such as payment of damages and attorney's fees, and termination from employment.
Lecuyer said people can avoid these types of penalties by being educated on the issue, taking privacy protection seriously and respecting the privacy of others.
Yance also suggests that people be extra vigilant while using the Internet, especially while visiting social networking sites.
"With things like Facebook, people need to be careful because sometimes people put too much information out there," she said, adding that it makes it just that much easier for someone to have their identity stolen by providing the information so freely.
"Identity theft is on the rise everywhere now," said Yance, whose mother recently fell victim to identity theft. "She's 86 and had her identity stolen, and it took her and my sister a lot of time and effort to get it fixed."
Yance said the best way to combat things like identity theft is prevention and awareness, and people should always know where their information is and where people can access it.
For more information, call 255-1363.