New twist on trust when storing data online

One reader learns a harsh lesson about online data storage when she has to beg access to her records after a business breakup

Gripe Line reader Joan wrote in to warn readers about trusting important financial and business documents to Web storage services.

"About a year ago, my business partner embezzled the remaining assets of a trucking company we founded together," Joan says. "We had been storing our invoices and trucking contracts on a secure site using the uReach virtual faxing service."

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After her partner scarpered, she tried to get access to those documents but found she didn't have the passwords. "We paid for the service with my personal credit card," she says, "but uReach let my partner keep the account."

Joan was reduced to calling the company and pleading to get access to her own files.

"It took more time than she wanted," explains uReach spokesperson Saul Einbinder. "It was a couple of weeks before she was able to provide the documentation required by our privacy policy. She was very upset. It was a difficult situation."

Unfortunately, according to Einbinder, this sort of thing happens too often.

"We frequently receive calls in cases of disputes, custody battles, business disagreements, and deaths where the caller requests access to an account. Callers are often distraught and angry. In these cases we go the extra mile to counsel the caller about ways to provide us with documentation that would enable us to legally share account information."

Joan was angry that uReach did not make the process of getting the data she had paid to store with the company easier.

Einbinder disagrees, saying Joan would have been glad of uReach's policy if it was her business partner who didn't have the passwords and was on the phone trying to get access to the account.

"We have to be careful," Einbinder says. "If we were loose in giving access to this information, it would be far worse."

Ultimately, though, Einbinder and Joan agree on one thing: Be careful who you trust.

"Be very careful," warns Joan, "if you decide to entrust your important business data to a third party because you may lose it and have no recourse."

Einbinder agrees. "Much like with a bank account, it is wise to consider who can get access to your data accounts."

Maybe the thing to do in this digital age is to forgo dramatic exits and weekend benders as responses to domestic or professional disagreements and instead (after you're done shouting and slamming doors) make a backup copy of anything you might want to have on hand if the relationship goes sour?

Got gripes? Send them to christina_tynan-wood@infoworld.com.

This story, "New twist on trust when storing data online," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Christina Tynan-Wood's Gripe Line blog at InfoWorld.com.

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