Preventing ID Theft in Businesses
Poor practices in business can lead to identity theft
Identity theft is a serious crime that is getting more and more costly
each year. Losses due to identity theft are estimated to be in the billions
of dollars, with the latest studies showing losses at approximately fifty-six
and a half billion dollars. Businesses and their ways of gathering information
can be leading to identity theft. Companies that require the gathering
and storing of person information pertaining to its clients or customers
need to take steps to minimize the risk that this information can get
into the wrong hands.
If safe handling practices, instead of some of the poor practices that
many businesses follow now, are instituted, much of this personal information
can stay out of the hands of identity thieves. However, if security is
lacking and the practices being used are sloppy, a company opens itself
up to lawsuits, fines…and worst of all, loss of clients and customers.
Some safety practices that a company can put into place to help stop
identity theft are:
- Make sure that you have a strong, valid reason for collecting the
personal information from a customer or client. If it is an extra piece
of information that is not technically needed for a transaction, don’t
collect it. Also, make sure you are having employees gather that information
in a safe manner. If it can be seen by a passerby, or they can be overheard
over the walls of their cubicle, that is not a safe environment to be
collecting personal information.
- Storage of information should be made safe by security systems. There
should also be security programs on the computers storing personal data.
- Access to personal information should be limited to those who really
“need to know” the information. All areas where personal data is stored
should have limited access by certain personnel, with password protection
on computer systems.
- As a rule, all personal information that is disposed of should be
unreadable! You need to think of disposal when you collect personal
data, as your business certainly won’t need it forever. Where is your
dumpster located? Do you shred all documents thrown away? Dumpsters
of all kinds that hold intact documents containing personal information
are treasure chests for those who are planning an identity theft.
- Personnel working at your business should have regular background
checks. Mailroom staff, cleaning personnel, clerical workers and computer
techs name just a few employees that have access to a wealth of client’s
No business can stop identity theft from happening in every instance.
Using the above safety measure will make it much more difficult for an
identity theft to occur, though.