Stealing identities is an ever-growing problem for businesses across the world. As a business owner, you may have already experienced the painful and disruptive process of business identity theft.
But despite this alarming threat, there are ways to protect your business from further damage and even reclaim lost assets. This article will provide key strategies to help you survive and thrive after identity theft as a business owner.
What Is Identity Theft and How Does It Happen?
Identity theft is the unauthorized use of someone else’s personal information, such as their name, Social Security number, and credit card numbers, to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity thieves can access this information through stolen wallets or purses, data breaches, phishing scams, or posting personal info on social media sites.
Once they have your data, criminals can open up new accounts in your name and make purchases with your stolen credit card information. They may also use it to access existing accounts, such as bank or investment accounts, and transfer funds. Identity theft can have a devastating financial impact on businesses of all sizes.
Uncovering the Tactics of Identity Theft for Businesses
Knowing how criminals may target your business for identity theft is imperative as a business owner. The most common methods include phishing, skimming, and social engineering.
Phishing involves using fake emails or communications that appear to be from a legitimate source to steal personal information. Skimming uses special devices to capture and store credit or debit card data from ATMs and point-of-sale terminals.
Social engineering involves manipulating individuals into giving away sensitive information or funds through seemingly trustworthy phone calls or emails.
Potential Risks Involved in Identity Theft
Identity theft can cause a great deal of financial damage to businesses and individuals. The costs associated with identity theft include stolen funds, charges to accounts, fraudulent applications for credit and services, legal fees, and other related expenses. In addition to financial losses, identity theft can also lead to reputational damage, emotional stress, and anxiety caused by violating one’s privacy.
In 2018, a massive data breach at Marriott International affected over 500 million hotel customers worldwide. The hackers were able to gain access to sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passport details, and other personally identifiable information, putting these individuals at risk of identity theft. As a result of this serious security lapse, Marriott was penalized with a substantial fine of $124 million.
Steps to Take Immediately After Discovering Identity Theft
In case of suspected identity theft, prompt action is crucial. You should take the following immediate steps:
Notify Affected Parties and Credit Bureaus
In the event of suspected identity theft, it’s imperative to notify all relevant parties promptly. This includes banks, creditors, and credit bureaus. By informing banks as soon as possible, they can take necessary measures to safeguard your accounts and prevent further risks.
Explaining the situation to creditors may be necessary to clear your name and erase any fraudulent transactions from their records. Credit bureaus should also be alerted to identity theft, as they can flag accounts and place a fraud alert on your credit report if necessary.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides valuable resources and guidance for identity thefts victims. Some recommended steps include placing a fraud alert on your credit reports, creating an identity thefts report, and filing a complaint with the FTC’s Identity Thefts Clearinghouse.
File a Police Report
Identity theft is a significant concern that requires prompt attention to mitigate potential harm. To ensure that the incident is properly documented and addressed, it’s essential to take action by reporting it to law enforcement.
This not only helps identify the responsible party but also provides a formal police report, which can facilitate the process of obtaining support from credit bureaus, banks, and other financial institutions.
To receive assistance, it may be necessary to provide an Identity Thefts Affidavit or ID Theft Report as evidence of the crime. This document typically incorporates a police report, offering a streamlined approach to resolving the issue.
Update Your Accounts/Change Passwords
You must update your accounts and passwords after discovering your stolen identity. Doing this will help protect your business from further theft or damage done by the hacker. It’s essential to create strong, unique passwords for each account and store them in a secure location.
You should also ensure that all your accounts have two-factor authentication enabled, adding an extra layer of security. Using a password manager, use the highest security settings available. You should also change your passwords regularly to ensure that hackers cannot quickly gain access to your accounts.
Strategies to Help Strengthen Security and Prevent Future Instances
Business owners must take proactive steps to protect their businesses against identity thefts. Here are some strategies to strengthen your business’s security and prevent future instances of identity theft:
Invest in Identity Theft Protection Software
As a business owner, it’s essential to safeguard your information and that of your employees and customers. Investing in identity thefts protection software is an innovative security tool to enhance your defenses. This software can help detect and prevent malicious activity that can lead to identity theft, including viruses, malware, and unauthorized access.
Additionally, identity thefts protection software can monitor your accounts and notify you of any unusual activity, allowing you to take swift action and prevent potential damage from a data breach.
Implement Enhanced Security Procedures for Staff and Customers
By instituting policies such as requiring a minimum password length or having customer information encrypted, businesses can reduce the likelihood that customer data will be compromised.
Additionally, providing training on how to spot phishing attempts can help reduce the risk that employees will inadvertently give away confidential data.
Finally, instituting two-factor authentication for all staff members ensures that only authorized personnel access sensitive information.
Monitor Your Credit Reports Regularly
By scanning your credit report regularly, you can quickly spot suspicious activity or any fraudulent accounts that may have been opened in your name. Doing this helps to ensure that you are not the victim of identity thefts and that all your accounts are secure.
Additionally, monitoring your credit report can help you to keep track of any changes in your credit score, which is an integral part of managing and protecting your financial health.
Identity theft is a severe issue for businesses, and business owners must take proactive steps to protect their identities and those of the people they employ. Business owners should be aware of the risks of identity thefts and understand the potential consequences, including legal action by victims.
It’s also essential to create policies that protect employees and customers and implement security measures to help prevent identity theft.
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