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August 7, 2013

Corporate Identity Theft – Identity theft is an often misunderstood issue.

PROSHRED® understands that with increasing national and international media coverage and the issue affecting so many citizens in recent times, people often believes the common misconception that identity theft only impacts individuals. Indeed this crime targeting the public is undoubtedly on the rise, with 2012 alone seeing 12.6 million cases of identity theft or fraud in the US1, much less often reported is the fact that businesses worldwide are increasingly falling victim to the crime. Renowned global technology advisor The Aberdeen Group estimates that a massive $221 billion a year is lost by businesses to the epidemic2. With that in mind, it is vital that businesses of all kinds are wary of corporate identity theft and put in place measures to prevent it.

So what exactly does business identity fraud involve, and who is at risk?

Corporate identity fraud can be defined as the wrongful acquisition of the identity of a business or its information for the perpetrator’s gain. The theft can take any number of forms, ranging from the hacking of networks to access restricted or sensitive documents, to simply collecting improperly disposed of documents from a dumpster. Whatever forms the fraud takes, the outcome is always the same financial and reputational loss for the targeted company.

Both large and small firms can be targeted by identity thieves, with levels of bureaucracy and hierarchy within the former often leading to oversights and security breaches, while the latter often lack the resources or knowhow to avoid such breaches3.

What can be done to combat corporate identity theft?

When it comes to preventing fraudsters from targeting your business, a number of steps can be taken.

  1. Shred sensitive documents which are no longer needed. One simple step, which goes a long way in protecting your organization, is to shred sensitive documents before disposing of them. PROSHRED® offers on-site shredding services which fights to prevent private information from leaving your business’ premises, and ensures that no confidential material regarding your company’s accounts or finances fall into the wrong hands.
  2. Properly destroy old hard drives. While an increasing amount of media attention is being placed on financial record shredding to avoid identity theft, one area often overlooked is that of hard drive destruction. Even after deleting information from a hard drive, it can still be accessed by those with enough technical knowledge. The only way to totally ensure that no sensitive information is left on an old computer or hard drive is to have them completely destroyed at the end of their lives. PROSHRED® offers mobile hard drive destruction services   which ensures there is no way the information on the drives can ever be recovered or abused
  3. Protect your passwords. Although this may sound like an obvious suggestion, one far too often overlooked cause of both consumer and corporate identity theft is that of improperly protected passwords. If a fraudster gets hold of your account passwords, they have the ability to defraud your business of vast amounts of money. One example of the effect such a simple security lapse can have on a business is that of law firm Martin & Hillyer LLP, which had its phone system hacked which causes  hundreds of thousands of dollars in long-distance calls racked up by a fraudster who uncovered the company’s phone-system password4. Such an occurrence is easily preventable.
  4. Keep a close eye on account and statement activity. Be sure to regularly review company account and statement activity to ensure that nothing unusual is happening and that there are no unexplained activities or transactions occurring in any business accounts. The more vigilant you are the better.
  5. Report anything suspicious to the proper authorities. By reporting suspicious activity concerning any company accounts, you are not only ensuring that anything unfortunate is nipped in the bud as early as possible, and that any potential financial losses are minimized, but you are also potentially preventing the fraudster from targeting others businesses in the future


[1]Javelin Strategy. N.p., 20 Feb. 2013. Web. 22 June 2013. <https://www.javelinstrategy.com/news/1387/92/More-Than-12-Million-Identi….
[2] “Identity Theft Statistics.” GuardChild. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2013. <https://www.guardchild.com/identity-theft-statistics/>.
[3] Identity Theft Assistance Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2013. <http://www.identitytheftassistance.org/pageview.php?cateid=88>.
[4] Prashad, Sharda. “Identity Theft Strikes Small Businesses.” Editorial. The Globe and Mail[Toronto] 18 Jan. 2010: n. pag. Www.theglobeandmail.com. 23 Aug. 2012. Web. 22 June 2013. <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/identit….

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