UBP blog


One of these things is not like the other

Q: The following are used to store and/or communicate employee benefits information.

  1. Files on your hard drive
  2. A fax machine
  3. An HRIS system
  4. Email

Of these 4 options, 3 are encryptable and one is not. Which one is not encryptable?

A:  If you answered number 2, a fax machine, then you are correct.

Here’s why:

You can encrypt both the files you store on your hard drive containing personal employee information and the email you use to communicate it to other HR staff and your broker. All you’ll need to do is purchase file encryption software and email encryption software, then have IT install it on all computers where personal employee information is housed and communicated.

You can also purchase (or get for free through your broker) an encrypted Human Resources Information System (HRIS) to securely store all vital employee and benefits information and protect it from being lost or stolen.

However, you cannot encrypt a fax machine. This means that effective March 1, 2010 when the law Standards for the Protection of Personal Information of Residents of the Commonwealth (201 CMR 17.00) goes into effect, employers’ days of faxing claim and enrollment forms are over, and for a good reason.

Think of it this way, you have  a new hire enroll in a family plan for your health insurance, she fills out the paperwork and you fax it to your broker (or who you think is your broker) but you press a wrong key on the fax machine by accident. Who do you think your fax went to? It was certainly not your broker.

And, what do you think the person who received the fax did with it? Did they throw it away without shredding it (that’ll be a $50,000 check made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts if the improperly disposed data gets stolen) or see the Social Security Numbers of your employee, her husband and two children and think, “Wow, four identities for the price of one!”?

How do you send employee personal information now that faxing it is obsolete?

You, the employer, can do one of two things.

  1. Scan the document containing employee personal information, purchase email encryption software and send it using your new encrypted email. 
  2. If your encrypted HRIS system has secure communication capabilities (between the HR/benefits administrator and broker), scan the document and send it through your HRIS. Universal Benefit Plans’ proprietary dual-encrypted online HRIS system, The HR in a Box™ has a feature called the Agency Help Ticket Center that will do just this.

Instead of encrypting file after file on computer after computer, or purchasing encrypted email just for the purpose of communicating personal employee information, you could get The HR in a Box™ dual encrypted online secure information storage vault and communication vehicle for free.

Call us at (617) 859-1777 to see if your company qualifies; the clock to March 1 is ticking.

Want to learn more about the law Standards for the Protection of Personal Information of Residents of the Commonwealth (201 CMR 17.00) and the many other things you must do to get your company compliant?

Register to attend one of our free 30 minute webinars:



  1. Is this law only in Mass or is it Federal? IF not Federal, what other states are impacted? Own a business so just curious.

    Comment by Kjones — 10/31/2009 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

    • 201 CMR 17.00 is a Massachusetts law and it applies to companies that “own, license, store and maintain” personal information on any Massachusetts resident.

      This means that the law applies to you if you have headquarters (or even just one office) in Massachusetts, customers in Massachusetts, or employees who are Massachusetts residents.

      Comment by ubpblogger — 11/02/2009 @ 9:31 am | Reply

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