Business Identity Theft
Business identity theft is the newest threat to small businesses all across America. In the case of a business, a criminal will seize a company’s identity and use it to acquire credit in the company’s name. Once they successfully obtain these credit accounts, the criminals will go on a spending spree buying electronics, office equipment, gift cards, and any other items that can be purchased and sold for cash.
The damage inflicted can cripple a business, prevent it from acquiring any credit, and even threaten its very operation while a victim is trying to clean up and recover from it.
The following five strategies can help you deter business identify theft:
- Develop a protection plan – While most businesses focus on developing business plans to grow their company, little attention is paid to developing a protection plan. Design a step-by-step plan to protect your company’s identity at the same time putting in place an action plan in the event that you do become a victim.
- Protect company documents – Keep all your company documents and records in a safe and secure location. Dispose of any unnecessary information by using a micro cut shredder for the highest level of security. Also, never provide your company’s federal tax identification number, financials, or bank statements to anyone unless you have made the initial contact. Finally, consider using a prepaid business credit card for employees as opposed to a traditional business credit card. With these cards you can set limits, deactivate a card in real time, and even limit the merchants for which the card can be used. If a criminal happens to steal a company card from an employee, you can quickly take action.
- Protect company information online – One of the surefire ways to put your company at risk is by using sensitive information such as an employer identification number (EIN), account numbers, financial documents, or personal information via email or the web. If you must provide this information for a specific reason such as applying for credit, make sure the site is secure and its security certificate is up to date.
- Monitor business credit reports – One of the fastest ways to detect a possible identity theft is to monitor your company’s profiles with all three major business credit bureaus. You can accomplish this by subscribing to their monitoring services which give you access to your files 24/7. Take advantage of email alert notifications so you can be notified of any new activity occurring on your company credit files in real time.
- Avoid the “master” user – You should avoid creating any type of “master” user account and password where an employee or individual can gain access to all your company information.
What do you do if your Business is a Victim?
If you suspect that your business information or computer has been compromised, take action immediately to try to minimize the extent of any damage or loss.
- Immediately cease all activity from computer systems that may be compromised.
- Immediately contact your local branch or personal banker so that your online access can be disabled. When speaking with First Federal Bank, you should also change your online banking passwords, open new account(s) (if needed), request that the bank review all financial transactions and electronic authorizations on your account and ensure that no unauthorized requests have been made without your knowledge (such as an address change).
- If you have questions or concerns about ID Theft for your Business, please contact your local branch or call 1-866-871-7926, Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Maintain a written record or events: what happened, what was lost and what steps you took to report the incident to banks, authorities and others (such as affected customers). Be sure to record the date, time, telephone number, person spoken with, details discussed and any applicable reference numbers (such as report or case numbers).
- File a police report and provide the facts and circumstances surrounding the loss. Obtain a police report with the date, time, department, location, and name of the officer filing the report. Having a police report will facilitate dealing with insurance companies, banks, and other organizations that may be affected by the fraudulent activity against you and your business.