How to Protect Your Business from Identity Theft

Did you realise that identity theft poses an important threat to the security of your business? Fraud that takes place due to identity theft is on the rise, and in 2011 there were 81,626 cases of identity theft reported to UK fraud prevention service CIFAS – the tip of the iceberg according to experts. Are you aware of how identity theft can affect your business? Do you have the correct measures in place to minimise your risk?

What is Identity Theft?

Identity fraud or theft happens when important or confidential details related to your company are stolen, usually for the intent of committing a financial crime. Personal identity theft involves the theft of names, addresses, bank account numbers, credit card details, and other financial information. Business identity theft involves stealing information about the business such as bank account details, or the details of directors or employees, in order that fraud can be carried out using the identity of the company and its reputation. Identity theft can become personal as criminals target the details of customers such as bank account details and credit card numbers.

What Crimes Does Identity Theft Enable?

Many different types of fraud take place through identity theft, including criminals using the company’s details to open credit cards in the company’s name, or to buy property or goods and services on behalf of the company.

How Does Identity Theft Take Place?

Identity fraud may take place virtually or through accessing details that were written down. The increase in the use of IT has provided criminals with an ever-increasing array of avenues for accessing company data. Details are stolen through hacking, key-logging, phishing, and numerous other illegal techniques. Hackers can access servers directly or install equipment and software that enables them to access the accounts via a syphoning system. Additionally, the popularity of social networks online means that more and more people are posting personal and business details on social networking sites which are vulnerable to hackers and criminals.

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What Can You Do To Prevent Identity Theft?

Make sure that you practice excellent data storage and document management techniques in order to limit the access to confidential files and personal information. Make sure that the data on your laptops and mobile devices is secure in the event of theft. Put a Secure Shredding policy in place, available from a supplier such as www.simplyshred.co.uk. Dispose of old computers securely. Put effective firewall protection surrounding all your IT systems and make sure that employees are aware of the risks of visiting sites that are not secure, and could install malware on the system. If you are moving offices, use a mail redirection service and report any lost mail. If your staff use uniforms then you should keep track of these as they can also be used for fraudulent purposes. Use the services at Companies House to prevent criminals accessing your company details and making changes.

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