Do you store personal data on company computers and cell phones? You may want to consider a backup plan. According to The Wall Street Journal, many workers who got pink slips in recent months lost personal information stored on their company's equipment when IT shut down their access. In most cases, they had no chance of getting the information back since companies typically delete such files.

Most businesses today have new hires sign electronic communications policies that require them to surrender privacy or rights of ownership over anything on company PCs. It doesn't matter if it's a photo of your child or your mother's phone number, it still belongs to the business. Some companies allow laid off employees to retrieve the information, but most are more concerned about securing data from theft. Bottom line: Back up personal data on your home computer.

The Journal also suggests:

  • Be careful about downloading or printing out e-mail contact lists. These typically belong to the company.
  • Keep copies of your company's electronic communications policy, employee guidelines and non-compete agreements.
  • If you are laid off, ask if you can take personal files off your computer or work phone.