MNCPA PERSPECTIVES

Protect your personal information

May 8, 2017  |  Geno Fragnito

Your personal information is everywhere. Do you know what’s out there?

I know what you’re thinking: you pay attention to detail, so of course you know what’s out there! You have done a Google search of your name and found everything there is to know, including some not-so-flattering pictures you don’t recall.

Every day, it seems there’s a news report of a significant data breach somewhere in the world and no one knows how much information the bad guys really gathered.

CPAs are prime targets for data miners. There’s no doubt you spend a lot of time and money to safeguard businesses, clients and your personal information. A breach of employee data, customer data or financial records could cause significant damage to a business or CPA firm. For a criminal, collecting the financial information of your customers and clients could be the pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow.

Everyone agrees protecting private information requires diligence to stay one step ahead of threats. As much as no one wants to say it, it also involves a little luck.

With all the time and effort spent to protect private information, it’s possible and, more likely probable, you have neglected to keep up with or know about the public information available about you. As technology continues to improve and public record searches continue to grow, more of this information will find its way to the web.

What information is public?

One public record you may not know about is the licensing file the Minnesota Board of Accountancy keeps for every individual and firm permit issued in the state. Most of the information in your file is public data, though some information, such as your Social Security number, is private. Have you ever looked at your record to find out what information is public?

Items you might find in your licensing file include the date you became a CPA, your test scores and how many times you took the test, as well as what disciplinary action, if any, the BOA has taken against you. 

Who may look at your info?

Attorneys, competitors and your adversaries are looking at your public data. That’s why you should periodically check to see what they see. There’s no downside to knowing what information is in your file. It’s possible there were errors made recording some of the data. Only you would know, and only you would be able to request a correction. You should also check with other licensing agencies if you hold multiple state-issued licenses.

Next steps

Contact the Minnesota Board of Accountancy to request a copy of your licensing file. A request must be made in writing, and BOA staff can provide more detail on the requirements of a request.

Minnesota Board of Accountancy
85 E. 7th Place, Suite 125
St. Paul, MN  55101-2143
651-296-7938

Topics: Professional certification

Geno Fragnito

Geno Fragnito is the MNCPA’s government relations director, advocating on behalf of the CPA profession. His days consist of last-minute meeting changes, building relationships with lawmakers, helping CPAs navigate state government, and putting in more than 15,000 steps per day walking the halls of the Capitol. Geno unwinds with a little golf and traveling with his family. If he weren’t a lobbyist, Geno would perfect his cast and be a professional fisherman. Geno can be reached at 952-885-5550 or gfragnito@mncpa.org.

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