The reported cases of business identity theft and fraud have risen steadily over the last several years. Owners and operators: here is your cue to initiate a plan for protecting your business. Identity theft can cost your company a lot of time, money, and significantly damage business credit scores.
There are several quick and affordable steps you can take to protect your business.
- Strong internal security procedures: A lot of information leaks start from the inside, it’s important to restrict employee access to sensitive information and financial records. Make sure your staff is trained on how to identify phishing and other spam emails. Require that staff only use company authorized devices. Managing internal operations can help protect you from hackers and criminals who intend to steal company information.
- Secure your data: This means both online and offline. Speak with your internet service provider, ask what they do to protect your data. Invest in strong internet firewalls, anti-virus, anti-malware, and ad blockers. Make it standard practice to shred sensitive documents or keep them locked in a filing cabinet.
- Operate with and EIN: Even if you are a sole proprietor, it is safer to operate using an employer identification number (EIN) rather than using your social security number.
- Speak with your vendors: If you have provided sensitive information on credit applications, speak with each vendor to see what steps they take to protect your business and personal data.
- Monitor your accounts: Protect your business by monitoring business credit reports, credit card statements, and bank statements. Often the first signs of fraud show up on credit reports. If you see a new account was opened or late payments are showing up on a revolving account you have not used in months, you might be a victim of identity theft.
If you notice fraudulent activity, act immediately to protect your company’s reputation and financial standing. Set up credit alerts on your personal and business credit reports, that way you can stay a step ahead of potential thieves.