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Employees’ paycheck selfies can open accounts to thefts

Q&A with Nathan Whatley

published in The Oklahoman | November 25, 2014

Labor and employment attorney Nathan Whatley was interviewed by The Oklahoman about an alarming trend in which the posting of confidential employer information on popular photo-sharing social media sites has resulted in criminal activity such as identity theft and bank fraud.  In one notable instance, an Instagram user posted a photo of herself holding a paycheck with the tag #myfirstpaycheck.

“Enterprising criminals were able to use this information not only to steal the woman’s identity, but also to create a series of counterfeit checks to be drawn against the woman’s employer’s bank account,” said Whatley.

Unfortunately, these are not isolated events, he said.  One criminal ring in Minnesota stole countless identities and more than $2 million from more than 50 employers, banks and check-cashing business.

In an effort to guard against such activity, Whatley recommends that employers include language in their social media policies that expressly prohibit employees from posting or discussing confidential information, including any financial information or documents of the employer.  He also advises companies to train their works on the far-reaching dangers of posting confidential information, including paycheck information, on social media sites.