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ID theft

All about how it happens and how you can keep it from happening to you.

Business Identity Theft

Personal identity theft is hard enough to deal with, but criminals will steal your business' identity as well. How do your protect against business identity theft?

Although not nearly as common as personal identity theft, the recent study released by Javelin Strategy and Research revealed that small business owners are victimized one-and-a-half times more than other adults.

So what is the difference between personal identity theft and business identity theft? A victim of business identity theft, rather than simply being defrauded on a personal level, sustains damage to business relationships, credit and resources. The result of business identity theft can included damaged business credit ratings, large fraudulent purchases made in the business' name, a damaged reputation, costly deals made in the company's name or loans obtained in the company's name.

Although businesses of all size can be vulnerable to identity theft, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs are often hit hard because they lack the financial resources to recover from theft.

Business identity theft gets more common every day, but there are some simple steps you can take to significantly reduce your risk of becoming a victim:

  • Keep a paper shredder in the office – and use it! Make certain that all records, credit cards, and any document with any personal information (SSN, addresses, names, birthdates, etc.) go into the shredder.
  • Purchase security software that maintains an electronic firewall, encrypts your information, and protects your e-mail accounts from hackers.
  • If you maintain a website, have a professional check your site for "holes." Information can leak through security holes, exposing your business to identity theft.
  • Protect or eliminate your paper information. Keep files away from the public and accessible only to employees on a need-to-know basis. Because paper is more vulnerable than its electronic counterparts, store files in computers and switch to on-line banking, payroll and bill pay. Store documents that must bekept in paper form in a locked file cabinet.

According to a study by Javelin Strategy and Research, making these switches can potentially save consumers and businesses up to $4.8 billion and prevent more than one million cases of business identity theft each year.

Published May 30 2010, 06:24 AM by IdentityTheft
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