We all know identity theft is a problem, but get a load of this new stat: According to a Javelin Strategy & Research report, there was a new victim of identity fraud every three seconds in 2012. Wow. Identity thieves are ramping up their efforts, too. While individual consumers are most apt to be victimized, identity thieves are increasingly targeting small business owners and employees. Here’s what you need to know:
Why Are Small Businesses At Risk?
Seventy-five percent of data breach reports took place in businesses with fewer than 100 employees, according to the 2012 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. Many business owners assume they will not be targeted due to their size or supposed obscurity, and as such, fail to invest in adequate protection. These owners are then surprised and devastated to learn that, yes, small and seemingly “insignificant” businesses can indeed be targeted by those specializing in identity theft.
Common Approaches To Identity Theft
Even the most clueless criminal can cause great damage to a poorly protected business. Smartphones and tablets provide the perfect in for anyone specializing in identity theft. Thanks to apps related to the workplace, financial records, health information and more, owners of mobile devices increasingly find themselves storing personal information on their phones. Many never think twice about putting such potentially dangerous information in a place where just about anybody can access it, and, what’s worth, never bother to provide the most basic protection in the form of screen-locked password protection.
While many thieves access your valuable information via your own carelessness, others have more sophisticated methods to elicit data. Some thieves may obtain access to a business owner’s files simply by bribing an employee or breaking into an office. Others will sift through trash or recycling in hopes of finding discarded papers that tell them what they need to know. And still others pose as business associates, landlords or other persons of authority in order to access confidential information.These methods are utilized less and less as thieves latch on to the ease of smartphone-based identity theft, according to IEEE Spectrum, but they still occur.
Preventing Identity Theft
The easiest and most effective way to prevent identity theft is to provide password protection for your smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop and any other important device you own. And, as Life Lock notes, that password actually needs to be something that will stump potential thieves, not something easy to guess, such as “1234567” or “password,” both of which are among the 10 most used (and easily guessed) passwords.
Sometimes, password protection is not enough to keep thieves at bay. In such circumstances, it can help to have the assistance of an identity theft protection service.
Perhaps the most important step to preventing identity theft is educating yourself and your employees. Staff members should understand that throwing out intact files and otherwise leaving sensitive information accessible is unacceptable. The more employees understand the risks, the less apt they will be to act in a careless manner. The ultimate result? A safe and secure workplace.