How To Protect Your Business From Identity Theft

We tend to think of theft as someone breaking into our business and taking our belongings, or perhaps of being robbed at knifepoint when walking through a seedy part of the city.

But these days, theft can just as easily involve someone sitting behind a keyboard using software to doctor our company checks, making purchases with our company credit cards, or even pulling money right out of our company bank accounts.

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In fact, that sort of theft -- digital theft, electronic theft, and identity theft -- may be the most widespread form of theft today.

There are an array of ways a thief can steal your company's identity and use it to line their pockets (and ruin your credit). One of the oldest and still most reliable is “dumpster diving.”

Even in today's digital age, thieves go digging through office building garbage looking for documents that contain social security numbers, bank account numbers, addresses, and anything else they can use to pilfer money from you, your company, or your clients and customers.

It's low-tech, which means even the most unskilled of thieves can use it to open credit cards in your company's name or pass bad checks that appear as if they're coming from your account. 

You may think that it's just individuals who are at risk for this, but make no mistake, businesses are as well -- perhaps more so.

Most businesses are going to be working with a huge array of documents that contain account numbers, client contact information, credit card numbers, and much more. This is prime material for thieves, who can use it to snatch money from your business or anyone you've done business with.

It's also why so many companies are now using document shredding services. Because the cost of slipping up is too high.

There are other ways thieves can get hold of information that can lead to identity theft. Data breaches, for instance, often end up getting information in the hands of people who shouldn't have it, including names, addresses, and credit card numbers.

So how do you protect your company?

Use cash when you can, especially at restaurants. Card swiping machines are easy to get and allow thieves to clone your card, giving them a copy of it without your knowledge.

Avoid phishing scams. This is when a scammer attempts to mimic a legitimate entity you do business with, such as your bank, in official looking emails and fake websites. You unwittingly enter your confidential information and surprise! Now they have it.

Solution: Never provide your confidential information if it is requested in an email and never log into a site from a link given to you by email or from an unexpected correspondence. Banks and credit card companies do not send out emails asking you to log in!

Also, be sure to dispose of your documents properly. Use a document scanning service or medical records scanning service to eliminate your unneeded paper. A paperless office can be a good thing!

Identity theft can be a nightmare, but thankfully it's a nightmare you can have a better chance of avoiding by taking some of the easy steps and money saving office tips mentioned above.

And if you do find yourself a victim? Call your bank or credit card company ASAP. They have protocols in place to address the issue quickly and minimize the damage.