With all great advancements, there must be a little push back. And this holds true especially when it comes to technological breakthroughs that have made business functions easier and consumers happier. However, the booming Digital Age does come with some setbacks; while we are more connected than ever before and many processes are becoming fully digital, our data is increasingly more exposed.
In the last few years identity theft has affected upwards of 16 million Americans, per year! And the Bureau of Justice Statistics says businesses are not immune.
Although most people think of identity theft solely as a nightmare for individuals, businesses can also fall victim. Unfortunately, when an entire business is victim to identity theft, it means all employees and customers can also be open to threat.
What Is Business Identity Theft?
Also known as corporate or commercial identity theft, is the illegal impersonation of a business (or a business’s employee) for criminal gain.
Most people are familiar with consumer fraud (think: having a credit card stolen) which involves the loss of strictly personal information. However, as we said above, business identity theft is larger-scale and can have a domino effect that trickles down to employees and clients, too.
No business is ever 100% safe from identity theft, but there are certain practices and steps you can implement in order to reduce your risk. It’s also worth noting what business identity theft is NOT for the purpose of this article.
Business identity theft is NOT: an information security breach, employee theft, or consumer theft. While all are serious and harmful to your business, they do require a different set of security measures and practices.
How Can Your Protect Your Business?
High credit limits, large bank accounts, and the occurrence of regular large payments make businesses an attractive target for criminals. All of these aspects mean more capital gain for the criminal with a lesser chance of getting found out.
Being proactive can curb your risk of identity theft and protect your business now and in the future.
1. Lie Low
Keeping a low profile automatically reduces your risk of being a target. Always check credentials, establish standards for employees, and employ regular training on common identity theft schemes so that everyone in the office is up to date on what to be aware of.
2. Invest in Security
Gaps in security are bound to happen; even if everyone in your company knows not to give out info to strangers there are still things beyond human control. Strong cyber security software and online insurance agencies are solid building blocks of a secure plan.
3. Switch to Digital Statements
Mail theft is an easy and common gateway for thieves to get inside your business. Bank statements, credit card bills, human resources files, and other mail can be used to attack the business or others; go paperless whenever possible!
4. Adhere to Digital Security Best Practices
Investing in security isn’t enough, you must make an active effort to follow the guidelines as well as informing and educating your employees about these practices as well.
Training employees in these simple and effective methods can help protect your business:
- Automatic updates
- Securing offsite data
- Using VPNs for outside access
- Strong firewalls
- Secured wireless networks
5. Keep an Eye on Business Credit Reports
Monitoring your business’s credit is one of the easiest ways to assure you haven’t become victim to business identity theft. Set up alerts for changes to records and regularly look for any suspicious activity.
6. Inquire About Vendor’s Security Practices
Depending on your industry and service you may have to regularly provide sensitive data when working with vendors and clients. Before doing so, have a conversation to ensure their security practices are up to par and that you’re not putting your data at risk. This is a perfectly reasonable request.
We hope this article has given you useful information that can keep your company and its financial security safe! Business security is no joke and if you put it off for too long, your company may pay the ultimate price.
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