Tips on Preventing and Detecting Business Identity Theft

Here at MD Bookkeeping and Internet Services LLC, you and your business are valuable. In this post you will learn about how to set up protocols to protect your business from business identity theft.

The goal of preventing identity theft is to put in place the best possible “lock” to defend against thieves. However, preventing it is like preventing any other crime- there are no 100% foolproof methods to prevent it from occurring. If it does happen, the plan is to detect the theft as fast as possible so corrective account can be taken.

The following tips are some methods that will help you prevent business identity theft and detect theft in the event that your business’s identity is stolen.

Have a plan- A business plan is a critical component of operating and running a successful business. You’ll need to have a security strategy in place. This strategy is commonly overlooked, so make sure you set one in place. Create a business protection plan that includes steps to prevent and deal with identity theft.

Protect Your Business Records and Information- The majority of identity theft takes place offline. Stealing wallets and purses, intercepting or rerouting mail, and rummaging through garbage are some of the common tactics that thieves use to obtain sensitive information.

So you now have a plan and you know you need to protect that information. But how do you really protect that information? It is important to maintain only those records that are necessary to run or operate your business and to shred those records that are not necessary. If you have not done this before, now is a good time to start. Take an inventory of the document you maintain. The inventory will help you determine your exposure to risk and then you can manage that risk.

Any documents or records you need to maintain- keep locked up and secure. Not everyone in your business should have access to this information. Some owners like to view the information online rather than in the mail because they believe the chances of it being stolen is less. But you should do what feels right for you and your business. If you feel you need to you can sign up for electronic statements from your banks, credit cards and bills.

Never provide your business’s EIN (employer identification number), social security number, financial information or other personal information to anyone unless you have initiated the contact and have confirmed the requesting business or the person’s identity.

If a credit or debit card is stolen, cancel the card immediately. Don’t wait until later. Take note of any checks not processed in a reasonable amount of time and then contact the payee and consider canceling the check.

Finally, when it is time to move on or retire from your business and dissolve your business, contact the credit reporting bureaus to notify them that you are officially closing your business and your business will no longer be applying for credit.

Protect Your Business Online-

Don’t share financial documents, sensitive personal information or account numbers via e-mail or other web-based services. If you must provide this sensitive information over a website, ensure that the site is secure. A secure website will have “https” in the website’s URL.

Monitor Your Business Records Filed with the Colorado Secretary of State- If you’ve registered with the state, you should do the following:

  • Maintain the “Good Standing” or “Effectiveness” of the business;
  • Note your reporting or renewal month on a calendar;
  • Timely file your reports or renewals;
  • Sign up for e-mail notification for your entity or trade name;
  • Sign up for Secure Business Filing; and
  • Periodically check your entity’s or trade name’s history.

Monitor Activity-

The best method to detect possible identity theft is to monitor activity around your business.

  • Monitor your business’s credit report and, if possible, sign up for a credit monitoring service.
  • Subscribe to the Colorado Secretary of State’s business entity e-mail notifications service.
  • Sign up for e-mail alerts for your accounts.
  • Monitor your accounts and bills. If an unexpected bill, charge, credit card, or account shows up or a regular bill doesn’t arrive, contact the billing company.

This may seem like a lot of things to do to protect your business, but is it worth it? Well you need to ask yourself a few questions- did you start this business to be successful? Are you willing to protect it from theft? After all that hard work of getting your business where it is, are you going to let some creep steal everything you worked so hard for?

The obvious answer is- NO! So take the time and plan ahead. In a way it is like preparing for a test, but it is so much more than a test. Your business is vital to who you are. It may very well be the only source of income you have. So remember to make a plan, dispose of documents properly (train someone if need be to shred information) and then protect your business offline and online

Our Tax Pros here at MD Bookkeeping and Internet Services LLC work hard to bring you the latest information to help you be the best business owner you can be. Remember being informed is the first step in preventing identity theft.

Don’t stop with this article. We have so much more valuable information for you to help you with your business.  Check out Information for Victims of Business Identity Theft.