Did you know last week was National Identity Fraud Prevention Week (NIFPW)? No? Then perhaps somebody who has already stolen your identity knew on your behalf…
Research revealed on the back of NIFPW shows online identity fraud is a sizeable problem. Survey findings from YouGov show that ten per cent of UK adults who use the internet have been victims of online identity fraud in the past year. The survey also found the average cost of online ID fraud to UK victims in the past year is £697.30, and the risk to businesses could be even higher, with more to lose and employees sometimes less appreciative of the risk of identity theft to companies.
Yet you can take simple steps to protect yourself and your business:
1. Create an anti-fraud policy
Make sure employees operate in a way that will not make it easy for a fraudster to steal your business identity. For example, treat your headed paper and any electronic versions of your corporate logo as you would any other valuable asset. Don’t leave them lying around for strangers to pick up. Don’t allow blank headed paper to leave your office. The electronic version of your logo should only be available to trusted third parties and then only those who can maintain the same privacy on its use and storage.
2. Operate an IT security policy and enforce it
Make sure your Anti-virus software is up to date on every machine being used for your business. Limit the installation of third-party software which could risk malware infecting machines and stealing vital private information. Use a full range of security tools. While initial set-up might be longer, remember it is better to create new specific Firewall rules to control access to your server than allow access to all and sundry that is much more difficult to monitor.
3. Destroy securely all sensitive documents
This applies to paper-based and CD/DVD based documentation. Create good housekeeping rules too by ensuring all items are destroyed / shredded at the end of the day. A tidy-desk policy will also minimise the risk of sensitive information being left lying around. Remember that old PCs lying around at the back of the office may also hold sensitive information and pose a security risk. When deleting hard-drives it is also worth investing in software designed to destroy all traces of your information – just deleting files on them is not enough.
Businesses are as much at risk of identity theft as individuals and the consequences can be large-scale so it pays to be cautious and prepared. Organisation and education are the vital tools that will help protect your business reputation, assets and goodwill being sullied by unscrupulous third parties.