Protecting your business against Identity Theft

October 23, 2017

identity theft

According to UK fraud prevention group, Cifas, identity theft is on the rise and reaching epidemic levels. It’s becoming more important than ever to do as much as you can to guard against identity theft, whether you’re an individual or a business.

What is identity theft?

Identity theft occurs when a person’s personal details are stolen, usually to be used to get hold of goods or services without paying. For instance the fraudsters might use the stolen identity to open a bank account, take over an existing account, get hold of credit cards or loans, order goods in the name of the stolen identity, take out a mobile phone contract or even get hold of documentation like passports or driving licences in the name of the stolen identity.

However identity theft isn’t limited to individuals. Identity crimes now include the theft of business identities. While businesses have previously been targeted to get hold of confidential consumer details in order to defraud individuals, which is serious enough in and of itself, identity theft has now evolved to impersonate the actual businesses themselves. The stolen business identity can then be used to defraud suppliers, creditors, banks, customers, etc. Naturally this type of identity theft is even more lucrative for the fraudsters, so is becoming more common.

What can be done to prevent Identity Theft?

Businesses should protect themselves in much the same ways as individuals, educating employees to be suspicious of phishing emails and careful to look after both consumer and business documentation. Confidential information, utility bills, financial documents, etc should always be either held in a safe place, or destroyed when no longer required. Businesses would be wise to use a secure document shredding service for this.

Banking, credit and supplier accounts and the like should also be regularly monitored for suspicious or unusual transactions. It is advisable to also always keep up to date with submitting tax returns, etc, not just to avoid fines but to protect against someone else submitting false information on your behalf.

Keeping computer anti-virus software up to date will also help protect against hacking and spyware which can obtain information to be used in identity theft. Using strong passwords (and ensuring that passwords/pins aren’t shared) will also help.

If getting rid of devices such as smartphones, laptops, computers and the like, which contain a lot of personal and/or company information, ensure that you use a reputable service to destroy the data kept on them. Businesses who keep any personal information are obliged by The 1998 Data Protection Act to securely destroy such information to avoid customer details falling into the wrong hands, but any information on the company itself should also be properly removed.

A data wiping/data destruction service will securely erase hard drive disks so that the data can’t be recovered once the disk is reused or disposed of. Businesses should ensure that they receive a certificate of destruction, data protection and insurance records from the data cleansing specialist used for peace of mind.

Recycling Your IT offers both secure data destruction and document shredding services with a certificate of destruction so you can be confident your records and data won’t fall into malicious hands. Read more on our website or give us a call today to find out how we can help your business protect against identity theft.