Identity theft is often the result when a thief is able to get to personal information on your business or employees, particularly tax ID or social security numbers, and use them to commit fraud. These activities can ruin credit and leave you deep in debt. But there are a few things you can do to protect yourself and your staff.
1. Educate Employees on Unsolicited Emails
Beware of “phishing” emails from crooks pretending to be a bank other financial institution asking you to verify account information. In reality, that information is recorded and used to plunder accounts. Lottery or “prize” notices are a related scam. Remind staff to never provide such information through email. Others scams might include links to download some wonderful free software, which will actually install malware to hijack your computer or steal information. Filters should be set up on email servers to identify and trash such emails.
2. Enforce Good Computer Practices
Adopt strong password policies. Try applying cyphers, such as advancing each character by one, so that “99_Monkeys” instead becomes “00_Npolfzt”. Either way, change passwords regularly. Never store them on computers. You can always contact an Ottawa IT services company or a managed IT services provider in your area for help with choosing and updating passwords. For a budget-friendly, flat monthly fee, many of these companies can integrate expert security solutions, along with network monitoring and support, and a number of other benefits to keep your computers both optimized and safe.
3. Don’t Leave Information Lying Around
All sensitive information on paper, such as financial or insurance information, should be shredded before disposal. Deleting files isn’t enough—deletion simply removes them from the drive indexes, but the actual files remain until overwritten and can be retrieved. When replacing equipment that has digital memory, be sure to wipe the drives with a utility program intended for this purpose. Also remove any memory cards.
4. Don’t Forget the Snail Mail
Mail is a common target of information theft. If you have account statements or credit or debit cards that haven’t arrived yet, be sure to call your bank or utility and let them know. Get paperless billing if available. Install a high-security post box, and check it regularly. Don’t assume that “junk mail” is harmless; shred everything.
Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing forms of theft. Imagine how badly fraudsters would like to obtain a credit card with your company’s profits to spend, and the lengths they’ll go to get it. If you suspect you’ve been a victim, contact an anti-fraud center.