Businesses are not always aware of the full scope of business problems that identity theft can cause.  It is not only credit card information that can be utilized: sensitive files, such as customer, vendor, or employee home addresses or social security numbers can also be exploited.

If a business falls victim to identity theft, it has to think about its customers’, vendors’, and employees’ confidential information that may have been compromised.  These types of security breaches can hurt your business as well as damage your reputation.

To reduce the risk of identity theft at your company, consider the following:

  • Do not collect information you do not need.
    • The more sensitive information you have, the higher risk you run.  DO NOT collect a customer’s social security number and home address if all you really need is a name and an email address.
  • Limit access to sensitive files. 
    • Staff members should only have access to information that’s needed for their particular duties.  For example, your facilities person probably doesn’t need to have access to clients’ addresses.
  • Train staff to identify and report potential incidents.
    • Employees can sometimes unknowingly give out personal information that could lead to identity theft.  As an example: An eager-to-help staff member may be made to believe that the person they are talking to is the customer or client, and consequently may disclose confidential information to a fraudster.
    • When a staff member receives a seemingly legitimate request from a costumer, they should follow the proper procedures to make sure the person is who they say they are.

Identity theft is not just a problem for your clients; it is a business threat for you as well. Setting up processes for your business to alleviate these types of situations is critical to success. Communicate them to all staff so no one is tricked by a potential fraudster.

Other related articles: Be Aware of Tax Identity Theft Scams, Fraud Detection & Prevention, How to Protect Against Tax Identity Theft, Simple Ways to Minimize Check Fraud