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Transcription Security

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Are you confident that the audio files you share with your transcription company are secure? Here’s a guide for discussing transcription security before sharing valuable information. 

Government entities or businesses often turn audio files over to transcription service companies without knowing who or how many individuals have access to their information. With the increase in ransomware attacks and corporate extortion in the last decade, making sure you understand and incorporate transcription security precautions is essential.

In 2019, the values of the U.S. transcription industry exceeded 19 billion dollars, with continued growth forecasted for the next several years. Unfortunately, such growth also means that unscrupulous and unqualified transcription companies will enter the market.

Transcription Security Is Vital 

It’s essential to protect information contained in any audio file. The legal and medical fields are prime examples. CJIS and HIPAA requirements cover law enforcement and medical records. Strict policies and procedures dictate hardware and software requirements and which individuals are authorized to access sensitive data.

Do you know that some transcription companies use multiple foreign transcriptionists to transcribe audio files? To ensure your company’s data is protected, select a company that employs only transcriptionists who are U.S. citizens and pass a criminal background check before transcribing client audio files. 

Criminal Justice Information Services Division

The Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS) is the largest with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Every company or entity that manages or has access to sensitive Department of Justice information must adhere to stringent security protocols. Sensitive data the CJIS regulates can include background checks, fingerprints, criminal records, DNA evidence, interviews, and copies of government-issued documents such as passports. 

Private businesses or other governmental entities who require access to CJIS databases must adhere to 13 policies designed to protect data. These requirements also apply to other law enforcement agencies, prosecuting attorneys, and transcription companies.

Individuals needing access to CJIS information must undergo a criminal background check. Performing such due diligence helps ensure that no one with a criminal history can access CJIS data. 

Interestingly, foreign nationals cannot undergo a U.S. background check. Therefore, non-U.S. citizens are not allowed CJIS access.


In 1996, the U.S. Congress passed the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The act made it easier to switch insurance and providers and created stipulations for protecting a patient’s sensitive healthcare records.

Known as Protected Health Information (PHI), a patient’s personal data, treatment protocols, diagnosis, prescription information, medical tests, and other private results are protected.

Any healthcare provider or outside entity who performs any service for a provider and requires access to personal health records must be HIPAA compliant. Examples of outside entities include billing and coding companies, insurance companies, and transcription service providers. 

Companies or providers falling under HIPAA compliance standards must adhere to several criteria. For example, there are mandates for hardware and software systems. Companies must also designate a security official within each organization, restrict access to specific employees, and immediately report any unauthorized or suspicious activity. 

The Importance of Transcription Security

Even though your business or industry may not be required to adhere to CJIS and HIPAA security protocols, safeguarding sensitive information is still essential.

First and foremost, research the transcription service provider you use or may use. Below are a few questions to answer before retaining a transcription company:

  • Are they an actual U.S.-based company? Some foreign transcription service providers claim they are a U.S. company by securing a post office box and acquiring a U.S. phone number. Confirming whether or not a company originated in the U.S. is simple. You can start by accessing basic company information through Dun and Bradstreet or even checking business social media sites such as LinkedIn. 
  • Inquire about their security procedures. Any quality transcription provider can quickly provide methods used to protect sensitive data. Ensuring they are CJIS and HIPAA compliant is an excellent place to start. Also, ask what procedures are in place before uploading audio files. Make sure the company uses a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and a Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). These features encrypt data, and users can only access information using protected login credentials. 
  • Does the transcription company use or allow non-U.S. citizens or individuals who reside in a foreign country to transcribe client audio files? Some transcription companies tout low transcription rates because they use foreign transcriptionists. 
  • Can you access and speak directly to a company executive? Contacting a company manager helps ensure the proper transcription of your audio files. 

Protect Your Data With a Qualified Transcription Service

Price and Cost are both important when choosing a transcription service company. Don’t be swayed by price alone. Inferior transcription companies charge low rates because they usually deliver poor quality using foreign based personnel.  

Choose a transcription company that offers a 99% accuracy rate guarantee and a 100% satisfaction level for the best results. In addition, take a few minutes to research transcription companies. If possible, contact the company to confirm your exact needs and to receive accurate rate and delivery quotes. Taking these basic steps helps ensure a higher level of service at a reasonable cost.

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