I work in a call center for a home warranty company where customers call requesting to be signed up for the warranty. This is a call center in which credit card information is exchanged very often. I am not allowed to share customers’ information nor are they allowed to know all of my information. As a call center agent, saying your full name on the phone is a big “no no” because customers can look you up, harass you, message you on social media, etc.
Recently, my company has asked me to email customers with my company email instead of the automated system. I wouldn’t mind to email customers from our company email except that it has my full name in the email. My company email is firstname.lastname@example.org. This seems like a privacy violation to me. Is there anything that I can do?
In situations where you feel uncomfortable, the best place to start would be speaking with your supervisor. Ask about why this change is being implemented and voice your concerns regarding the issue. But, to be honest, your full name alone isn’t necessarily a private piece of information.
PII and PHI
Privacy tends to be confusing not just for employees, but also for employers. What can and can’t be shared can be both mystifying and distressing, and it will leave most people with questions about what legal ramifications mishandling private information can incur. To make the most sense out of this particular situation, we first need to differentiate between PII and PHI.
PII, or Personal Identifying Information, refers to any information that can be used to identify an employee, such as date of birth, social security number, address, etc. PHI, or Personal Health Information, is similar to PII, but requires that the identifying information be attached to some form of health information, such as medical records or medical test results. Should your information fall under the category of PHI, then there are federal legal protections that exist under HIPAA, or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. But in a case like this, a name would be considered PII.
Can your name be shared?
As for privacy regulations, employers have an ethical responsibility to protect employees personal information, but a name alone will not fall under any legal protections. While it would be possible for people to look someone up by typing their name into any search engine, an employer would not be held legally responsible for what a person finds there. So beyond voicing your concerns, there wouldn’t be much else that could be done.
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