Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes globally. Billions of dollars are lost each year to identity thieves, who are becoming more resourceful by the day. This epidemic affects all sectors of industry, and small businesses more than most. Unlike larger corporations, small businesses do not typically have the legal backing or financial resources to withstand significant adversity caused by identity theft. This makes preventing identity theft in the first place one of the most effective measures you can take to maintain the stability and long-term health of your small business.
The primary step in making your company secure against identity theft is to carefully control company documents. Keep all your sensitive documents and records in a location only accessible to select personnel. Destroy any unnecessary information regarding your business on a regular basis using a fine-cut shredder. Never provide sensitive information such as your bank statements, federal tax ID number or other financial records to any unauthorized recipient.
The Internet is home to limitless potential for market expansion, but is also fertile ground for unscrupulous parties to ply their nefarious trades. A breach of your web security could prove disastrous for your business. This reality makes it critical that you shield your company’s online presence from identity theft. Use an encrypted website and email network to protect user IDs and passwords, secure the internal transaction of sensitive data and any consumer transaction information such as contact listings and credit card numbers.
One of the best ways to limit the impact of any identity theft is to limit the records access any one person can have. When setting up your online security measures, avoid establishing any kind of “master account” that provides access to the full records and database of your business. Instead, compartmentalize your company information. Separate financial records from client contact information and competitor-sensitive data from employee information. Provide access to high-security data only when essential to the operation of your business.
Financial transactions are one of the most sensitive venues for identity theft, and malicious activity of this type presents the most potentially devastating threat to your business. To help protect against identity theft, use professional checks to make large purchases. This allows you to easily stop payment on a check in the event of any irregularity and also creates a paper trail that can be used by investigators should any incident occur. Keep company financial instruments such as checks and ledgers in a secure location at all times.
Vigilant monitoring of credit reports for your business is an outstanding way to keep a finger on the pulse of your company’s security. Make regular inquiries to the three major credit bureaus regarding the credit profile of your business, and consider subscribing to their respective monitoring services that give you unlimited access to your credit report information. Sign up for email alert notifications to be immediately made aware of any activity on your company’s credit files.
Protecting your business from identity theft takes a comprehensive plan and a constant, dedicated effort. Many small businesses make plans for growth and development, but devote insufficient attention to a viable protection plan at their own risk. Devise a wide-ranging, multifaceted security system for your business to protect all angles of your investment from identity theft.