Did you know that identity theft affects over 15 million Americans each year? Or that every 2 seconds, there is an identity victim?
The dangers of identity theft are real. But individuals are not the only ones at risk of identity theft. Over the years, business identity theft cases have been on the rise, costing companies millions of dollars and more in reputational damages.
According to IRS, there were 4,000 instances of business identity theft cases in 2016 up from only 350 cases in 2015. That number soared to 10,000 cases in 2017 with estimated damages of $137 million USD dollars.
Thieves often steal a business’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) and federal tax ID to open lines of credit, file fraudulent tax returns, and worse. And small businesses are often at risk since they lack requisite cybersecurity resources to combat this threat. Protect your company from business identity theft with these tips.
1. Keep All Software Up to Date
Running a business in this digital age will require you to have various software programs in use to remain competitive and meet the needs of the modern customer.
From accounting software to antivirus programs to business development apps, your business is likely to have a slew of software programs installed. To enhance security, any software you’re using must be kept up to date.
Why is this important?
Old software programs are vulnerable to security breaches. The good news; security issues are often resolved via software updates. When your software is updated, any problems and security vulnerabilities that were in the previous iterations of the software often get fixed.
2. Follow Digital Security Best Practices
As cybersecurity threats become more sophisticated, organizations and individuals alike are resorting to digital solutions to curb these threats.
Today, there are many privacy and identity protection services that can help you take control of your personal and private information. For instance, getting a dark web monitoring tool prevents identity theft by keeping track of various data points and providing prompt alerts if they detect any activity that may indicate fraud.
Also, if you run your business online, you may need to take extra measures to beef up your online security and ensure your business website is as secure as possible. Here are some of the digital security best practices that you should follow.
- Make sure all your business computers have antivirus and anti-malware protection.
- Keep browsers and software updated with the latest security patches
- Make sure your network is protected with a firewall
- Limit software installation abilities for employees
- Secure offsite data storage
You should also ensure your website has an SSL certificate and it’s using HTTPS protocol to better secure your customers’ private data.
3. Educate Your Employees
Educating your employees about sensitive data and the various means through which fraudsters steal business information can greatly help to combat identity theft.
Your employees may not realize that a business EIN should be kept just as private as credit card info or that any document containing an account number should be shredded before being disposed of. Educating your team can go a long way in helping them keep sensitive business information away from unauthorized hands.
Have more tips for protecting business identity theft? Share with us in the comments section below.