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By Liza Horvath


Confidential Information for Sale


When Justin Bieber’s former housekeeper sold her story about the parties, cough syrup cocktails and drugs that would temporarily turn the pop star “into a zombie,” she violated a confidentiality agreement she had signed when she became an employee of the Bieber household. While the violation of the agreement is clear – the housekeeper admitted that she took payment to tell all – even if Bieber sues her into bankruptcy, the reputational damage is done.   


There is no doubt that huge numbers of the public are obsessed with Justin Bieber-type stars and the dirty details that make them seem less than perfect, but the problem with this situation is that it underscores how easily sensitive personal information can be compromised. Although stars like Bieber, Charlie Sheen and the like have strong confidentiality agreements in place with their employees, it is evident that money can make some insiders tell all despite the resulting legal implications.


But how does this situation apply to us – the everyday, non-star people? Well, believe it or not, if you have achieved a level of success or recognition in your community, there are people that want to know the details of your life and, unfortunately, for some of these “inquiring minds,” the dirtier, the better. This is awful, but it is true. So how does this manifest in our daily lives and is it possible to protect information that we would prefer not be made public?


Consider this: You applied for a life insurance policy and underwent a physical exam to qualify. Once the policy was issued, you put the policy in your safe deposit box and forgot about it. A decade or so goes by and your new financial advisor wants to take a look at your policy – not a bad thing because you may be able to get more insurance at a lower cost due to changes in the insurance industry. You give your advisor the policy and your advisor, in turn, gives it to his temporary assistant to copy so he can return the original to you. It just so happens that the assistant used to be married to your brother’s cousin and holds a grudge against the whole family. Still no big deal? In most policies the doctor’s report generated by the physical exam is attached to the back of the policy and that report may reveal intimate information about you that you would prefer not be made public. Too many coincidences, you think? Could never happen? Think again.


Consider the divorce you survived years ago. Your legal file residing at the law firm that represented you may have details about your divorce – not only about who got what, but it may also hold copies of depositions where your ex-spouse laid bare all the intimate details of your private lives.


Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, Inc., wrote a book titled “Only the Paranoid Survive” and, while the book is not directly on point, his message is. Grove tells us to stay vigilant at all times. Know who has information and to what extent. If you must release information, only provide the minimum that is absolutely necessary. Be paranoid and remember, when it comes to the release of personal information, less is better.

Liza Horvath has over 30 years experience in the estate planning and trust fields and is the president of Monterey Trust Management, a financial and trust management company. This is not intended to be legal or tax advice. If you have a questions call (831)646-5262 or email liza@montereytrust.com










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