Safeguarding Your Small Business against Identity Theft
By: Michael | Published: November 29, 2010 | Filed under: Uncategorized
Sunshine Suites — New York City Office Space
As a business owner, there are a lot of bases you have to have covered. Getting your financial aspects squared away, keeping the business productive, and even maintaining your employees. The last thing a business owner may think about is protecting their business against identity theft. Every year, more and more businesses are becoming a popular target for identity theft. Why? Simply because most business owners do not monitor their company’s credit profile or even think to protect the actual company against identity fraud.
How it Works
Often these identity thieves will use a company’s credit profile to open vendor accounts, purchase goods, or even start-up their own company. These start-up companies can have rental or lease agreements, utilities and even equipment leases all under the stolen identity of a particular business without the business having any idea. These scam artists can get extensive lines of credit, even access cash reserves, and start building business relationships fraudulently.
Unfortunately, the biggest target for this type of business identity theft falls on small to mid-size businesses. Larger corporations are typically protected by trademark laws, copyrights, and other federal laws that offer a harsh punishment to those who would attempt to steal their identity; therefore deterring these criminals to the smaller or mid-sized businesses that are not as protected.
How to Protect Your Business
As a small to mid-size business, you need to be able to safeguard your company against these forms of identity theft and ensure the credit and financial stability of your company. Some ways that a business can safeguard themselves against business identity theft are:
- Credit Monitoring – For the business owner that does not have time to monitor their company’s credit, they may find it more beneficial to sign up with a credit monitoring service. These services will pull credit reports on a daily basis and notify the business owner of any new accounts, address changes or even lease agreements that show up under the company name. A company can also monitor their own credit by accessing their credit reports at Experian.com.
- Credit Freezes – A credit freeze can be a difficult form of protection, especially for a business. A credit freeze will do just like it sounds – freeze your company credit. That means that no one, including the owner, can access the company’s credit without the credit freeze being lifted. Though this may sound like a hassle, this can guarantee that a company’s credit will not be used fraudulently while it is under a credit freeze. To place a credit freeze on your company account, you will need to review the regulations for your state by visiting ConsumersUnion.org.
- Monitor Credit Card Usage – Just like your own personal finances, a business owner should monitor their credit cards. Often identity thieves will order credit cards in a company’s name and run up the charges without the company ever noticing. Review monthly credit card statements for any suspicious activity and avoid using company credit cards over the internet and telephone.
- Pharming Sites – Often there are identity thieves that will set up fake websites similar to a company’s. These sites will be used to capture consumers that type in an address incorrectly or that use internet searches to find a web address. Scan the web for web sites that may be posing as your company under a fake address.
- Identity Theft Assistance – Though you may think your company has become a victim of business identity theft, often you will find that getting help from institutions such as the US Secret Service or even the FBI can be a difficult task. These firms receive over 300,000 complaints a month from company owners. It is often recommended that a business owner report any suspicious activity or business identity theft directly to the Federal Trade Commission instead.
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