There’s something counterintuitive about sending personal information over fax. It seems like such an old-fashioned method of communication, you may believe that it isn’t as secure as more modern means. However, you might be surprised to learn that many industries still rely on faxing for much of their confidential information, as it’s still considered one of the safest ways to send sensitive data. Looking at the alternatives, emails aren’t entirely safe as not everyone uses a secure email service. Similarly, uploading files to a secure online storage service has been foiled by hackers in the past – while faxing soldiers on.
As we mentioned, plenty of industries use fax to exchange sensitive information. Chances are your medical history has been sent by fax in the past since it’s a method frequently used by medical professionals and hospitals around the world. Similarly, even police, law firms, and courtrooms regularly fax incredibly sensitive data like criminal records and case histories.
How about online faxing, is that safe too? It can be – if used correctly. Online fax services offer additional encryption, so your messages stay fully encrypted as they go from point A to point B. Of course, faxing isn’t secure if you’re not doing it in a safe manner, so here we’ll go through some of the most important personal information you may have to send and give you tips to make sending your data even safer.
Credit Card Information
Naturally, you need to be protective over your credit card information but there are times when you may need to send a fax with your precious data. However, if you’re careful there shouldn’t be any security concerns as the actual process of sending from fax machine to fax machine or from one encrypted online fax service to another — or any combination of the two — is theoretically secure.
The first thing you need to consider is who you’re sending your data to. You must make sure you’re sending to a company you trust so the person on the other end of the line won’t go on a spending spree with your credit card information. In a safe office environment like a bank, this may be fine but, if you can, make sure that someone is at the other end to receive your message and properly dispose of it afterward.
Social Security Number
It’s never wise to give your Social Security number away unless it’s absolutely necessary. If your number does end up in the wrong hands it can lead to identity theft. Although the process of faxing is safe, what you don’t want to do is give your Social Security to scammers who would be delighted to take it. One thing you can do is search online for the fax number you’re sending your details to and make sure it corresponds with the company you want to contact.
If there’s one thing you don’t want to experience, it’s having the IRS breathing down your neck. That’s particularly true during an audit which is one of the few times you’ll be required to fax your tax documents. Although fraudsters would love to have all of your tax documents, they would either need a wiretap to intercept your message or be standing next to the fax machine when your message comes through.
Similarly, if your accountant needs your tax documents then it’s important to know that their office is secure. If you are concerned about who will be receiving your message, make sure you add a confidential cover sheet to your fax.
As we’ve seen, medical information is often transferred by fax. Rest assured though, this kind of data transfer is highly regulated – as you would expect when dealing with such sensitive information. All medical professionals must follow HIPAA guidelines to ensure patient confidentiality. Fortunately, some online fax services are HIPAA compliant, like RingCentral and SRFax. So, if you ever need to send any important medical documents then make sure you use one of these services.