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November 7, 2016

7 Ways a Business Can Prevent Identity Theft

Identity theft is an unfortunate circumstance that occurs to not only Philadelphia residents, but to businesses across the world. This major crime is becoming increasingly popular as businesses continue to store large amounts of information. While identity thieves can steal self-identifying data such as social security, account, and phone numbers from paper documents, this information is also suspect to online hackers.

Once your business has been affected by identity theft, you will face a damaged reputation and risk liability issues. It’s very important your business takes necessary precautions to keeping its data secure and preventing identity theft. You can start with these 7 steps:

1) Request Photo ID

Many businesses sell goods and services to their clients and customers. Unless the customer is a regular buyer of services and goods, businesses should train their employees to request an ID for verification, such as a driver’s license with a photo. This can help businesses quickly verify that they are selling to the correct person.

2) Use Secure Storage

Another way businesses can prevent ID theft is to securely store sensitive documents. Documents that contain sensitive customer information, such as social security numbers and date of birth, should be kept in a secure location such as a safe or file cabinet protected by a key or combination.

3) Limit Access

Along with storing important documents in a secured location, companies should limit access to of these documents to certain employees only. The access could be limited to specific employees such as those receiving special training or have already passed background checks. Limiting access to some certain individuals will help prevent sensitive, confidential customer data from falling into the wrong hands.

4) Review Statements

Businesses often use credit cards to help make purchases. Those that take advantage of credit cards should review their statements regularly to ensure all the purchases are legitimate. Customer orders should also be reviewed to confirm if they are valid. Additionally, businesses should be especially suspicious of unknown customers.  Even though credit monitoring services like TransUnion or LifeLock cost money, it is a great option because it helps businesses ensure data isn’t being accessed or used without knowledge or permission.

5) Computer Protection

In today’s technically leading world, some businesses run entirely on computers. Often, computers store sensitive information such as account and social security numbers. A hacker that breaks into a business’s computer can easily steal this information and commit ID theft. To prevent this, companies should protect their digital infrastructure by using firewalls, installing the latest anti-virus software, installing software updates, and implementing email spam filters. All this will help reduce the likelihood a hacker can gain access to a business’s digital infrastructure. Additionally, all employees should be trained annually on the company’s best practices and policies regarding internet use and securing digital information. All work computers and laptops should not be accessed outside of your secure network. If employees are accessing from an off-site location, all procedures should be adhered to, limiting your security risk.

6) Data Retention

Another way businesses can prevent ID theft is to implement security policies regarding data retention. Implementing this policy will help businesses decide when to remove customer data. Maintaining customer data on a set retention schedule will help to lower your risk by eliminating sensitive information that no longer needs to be kept. For example, if a customer has not ordered goods from a business after 6 months, then it may be time to remove credit card and other sensitive information from the account.

7) Hire a Professional Shredding Service

Preventing ID theft can also be simplified by using a NAID AAA (National Association of Information Destruction; www.naidonline.org) certified professional shredding service. These services comply with national privacy regulations, and some go the extra mile by adopting the rigorous standards of the ISO (International Standards Organization). Professional shredding companies also offer low cost services that are convenient and eco-friendly, while offering tools and best practices that ensure customers stay compliant. By choosing a certified, secure shredding service, businesses can have a third-party company handle the secure destruction of their documents and hard drives. Not only does using a shredding service save money in terms of internal productivity and reduced legal liabilities, but it also implements a compliance program, including proof of destruction.

The incidence of ID Theft continues to be on the rise, negatively impacting companies & individuals in a number of ways, ranging from severe fines, poor publicity, loss of credit and healthcare. Companies that are interested in better protecting their clients, employees,  and company information should actively follow these 7 tips to prevent ID theft.

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