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How To Safely Share Sensitive Information

By Allie Seligman on February 29th, 2016

We’ve all done it: shared something we probably shouldn’t have via text, email, instant message or otherwise. You might not think twice about sharing your Netflix login info or an employment form with someone at work. What about your Social Security number? Tax documents? Your bank password?

Time to step up your sharing. Read on for better, safer ways to transfer information.

Send it in pieces

Here’s a simple way to send sensitive but not the most confidential of information: Break your message up and spread it over more than one form of communication.

Removing the context of your message adds a layer of protection. For example, if you need to send website login credentials, send your username via email and your password via text. Notify the recipient beforehand if necessary to avoid confusion.

Take it a step further and send half of the password via text and half via email. (Again, ensure your recipient knows the order.)

Use a secure service

Password storing services offer a secure sharing option for login credentials. Such services, like LastPass, provide an extra layer of encryption. How safe is it? Hackers failed to steal users’ information after the service’s databases were attacked last summer.

For sending files (think forms that include personal details or financial data), try Dropbox. Save your file to the synching service, then email or text a shareable link to your intended recipient. Files are uploaded and downloaded over a secure network, encrypting your documents along the way.

Keep private info out of your email, chats or text messages with onetimesecret.com. Create a secret link that works once and disappears. You can also generate a random password to share if you’d rather not pass yours around.

Go old school

When possible, deliver sensitive info in person. Print out and hand deliver documents, or tell someone your login information personally.

Use a flash drive

For documents or more intricate information, upload to a flash drive. Be sure to set a password or encrypt information that requires extra sensitivity.

Change up your passwords

Avoid using the same password over and over, especially for sites that store financial information. If someone discovers your password for one account, they may be able to access others if you make it a habit of doubling up.

Change it up

If you share a password with someone who needs to access your account just once, change it after they’ve gotten what they need.

Don’t keep a list

It’s tempting to write your passwords out and stick them on your computer — especially if you’ve got dozens floating around in your head — but leaving a list around is risky. All it takes is one glance from someone up to no good, and your information is no longer safe.