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Keep Your Small Business Safe From Identity Theft

Identity theft

Most people think of identity theft as a problem affecting individuals and families, but identity thieves target small businesses as well. Savvy small business owners can take steps to protect their business from this crime.

Is Your Small Business at Risk?

Small business are actually disproportionately targeted for information theft reports Lifelock, an identity theft protection service. Think carefully about who has access to the identifying information of your business. If thieves can get ahold of certain key pieces of information, including the business owner’s social security number, official business address and credit history, then they can open a number of credit lines under the business’ name. Since business lines of credit are typically more generous than personal credit lines, identity thieves stand to do a world of damage before the business owner gets that first bill.

Stay Alert: Common Techniques of Identity Thieves

Identity theft happens in several different ways, according to the Better Business Bureau. The bureau suggests you make a list of red flags specific to your own business.

For example, if you have an online store, set up clear methods to identify whether your customer credit card information has been accessed inappropriately. Hacking into poorly protected websites is a great way for thieves to capture personal credit card information and make a few purchases off several different cards before getting caught. This is also a surefire way to develop an untrustworthy reputation and drive off customers, so be sure to stay on top of the security of your ecommerce sites.

More commonly, identity thieves will work to gain access to your business’ existing credit accounts or take out new lines of credit and rack up thousands of dollars in expensive purchases. Sign up for alerts from your banks and creditors, so you are notified when suspicious transactions occur—this can help you identify and stop theft.

How Can Small Businesses Prevent Identity Theft?

There are a number of strategies that small business owners can employ to help prevent identity theft. Never create a “master” account or use the same password and user ID combo on multiple accounts, according to the U.S. Small Business Association. This is to help prevent identity thieves from gaining access to all your accounts and can help catch the thieves before they damage more than one account.

Smallbusinesscrowd.com recommends investing in appropriate software to detect any security breach on your networks or sites. Invest in good antivirus software and spyware and always use a firewall.

A more low-tech, but still effective approach: Be meticulous about shredding documents with vital company information before disposing of them. This “old-fashioned” identity theft technique is still a standby method to get your business’ information. It only takes a few sheets of paper in the hands of a skilled identity thief to undo years of hard work.

Finally, consider employing an identity theft protection service. This proactive measure can keep your business from being one of the unlucky victims of identity theft.

Author’s Bio

Megan Peterson: Megan is an Internet consultant from Chandler, Ariz.
Posted on June 27th, 2013 by Rachel Braam, Office Manager

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