Although identity thieves are typically thought to target individuals, small businesses are also prone to the types of data breaches that can leave a person’s private information vulnerable. Fraud protection experts advise small businesses to recognize the ways in which they are vulnerable to identity theft, and to install security measures that will close those protection gaps. Doing so can ensure the company’s reputation and the integrity of its data are not compromised by thieves.
Why do identity thieves target small businesses?
Small businesses may have a greater public profile than the average individual, but they may not always have the resources for the extensive anti-theft security measures larger corporations adopt. As a result, identity thieves may find it easier and more discrete to target a small business for identity theft, taking advantage of its extensive network of connections and often ample supply of personal data.
Thieves can target the personal information of small businesses’ customers, employers or partners, according to the Better Business Bureau. They may also target a company’s own identity, using its financial information to make purchases and disguise the charges with other, legitimate business expenses. Others may assume the company’s identity when contacting individuals in phishing attempts.
Ways for small businesses to help combat identity theft
Small businesses may mitigate the effects of a potential data breach by taking the following steps.
- Minimize collected data — Some businesses collect more data from their customers than needed. By minimizing the amount of personal information on hand, company may be able to reduce the impact of a potential data breach. Additionally, information that is only needed for one-time use should not be saved.
- Destroy unneeded data properly — Old employee records or other outdated data should be destroyed promptly and properly. Paper shredders can eliminate hard copies, and certain services can permanently erase digital data from old computers or hard drives.
- Use a diverse array of security techniques — Digital data should be protected with passwords and encryption, while hard documents should remain under lock and key. Small business owners should limit the number of people who have access to critical information and be sure to never reveal that information to unauthorized people. Additionally, a place of business should be armed with locks and a security system during non-business hours.