Whether you are a member of a small advisory committee, library board, a city Councillor or hold a higher office, as soon as you are appointed or elected to some office you instantly become the target of attempts to steal your identity or hack your email or social network accounts. This is especially true if you are a city Councillor, member of Congress/member of Parliament, or higher.
In an effort to give you back a little bit of the privacy you left behind by assuming public office, the team here at Shuffle want to shed some light on the top five ways you can reclaim some security and privacy in your life, while still doing the job you were elected to do!
1. Get a Post Office Box
No matter where you, almost every postal service (and often private shipping companies) offer post office boxes that you can have mail delivered to. So before you even file your election nomination forms, get yourself a P.O. box in your local area and put that address down on the paperwork. Too many people have allowed themselves to be doxed by putting their home address on their election paperwork. Unless your jurisdiction requires it, it is much safer and smarter to use a P.O. box address.
2. Get a domain and separate email address
Do not use your personal email address on your election filings, in correspondence with supporters, or after you are elected (that last one is probably illegal any way). Buy a domain for your campaign (e.g. hernandezward2.com), get a web hosting plan that includes email, and set up a custom email address specifically for your campaign. If you happen to win, use only the government-issued email address to correspond with your constituents. If you buy tools to use for your campaign, like NationBuilder, use your campaign email address to sign up and pay for those tools. The fewer people that know your personal email address, the lesser chance you have of your personal accounts being hacked and stolen.
3. Get a dedicated phone number
A big mistake is to use your personal home or cell phone number when running for office, or handing it out to people after the fact. Why? Because SIM-jacking is becoming more prevalent despite the attempts to curb it, and if you are listed in the phone book then it makes it that much easier for people to figure out where you live. This isn’t an issue when things are going well, but inevitably you will make a decision that angers someone, and they could potentially get your phone number, home address, and more and begin to harass you.
Instead, download an app to obtain a second phone number for your device, get a number in your area code, and use that number instead! No SIM jacking possible because it’s not associated with a SIM card, and you can easily trash it and get a new one if necessary.
4. Meet constituents and lobbyists in public places
It’s great when people want to meet with you. You’re in this job to hear people’s concerns and help them solve them, right? Cool. So when they ask to meet find a restaurant, café, library, or other public place to meet with them. If you have an office, you can use that, or even offer to visit them at their home (although that could get ugly if they’re angry). It’s best to find a public place so that grievances can be made in a safe way, and you can respond in kind by noting their concerns and getting back to them as soon as possible.
5. Walk, bike or use public transit or cabs to get around
This tip is only for those of you who have public transit available, or have a budget you can dedicate to cabs/taxis or a ride sharing service. So, if you can, use an alternative to your personal vehicle to get around. Not only will you help cut down greenhouse gas emissions by using public transit, but no matter what you choose to do avoiding the use of your own personal vehicle will reduce the chances someone is waiting to talk to you when you get out of that meeting at the local coffee shop.
If you’re looking for more tips on how to protect your phone, check out this guide from Bloom.