Small Business & Identity Theft – Part 3

In our previous installment, we reviewed resources that one can take to reduce the chances of business identity theft. Today we look at some actions to take right in your own office.

Don’t Mix Personal With Business

Avoid using your personal credit cards, accounts, and lines of credit for business. Using business cards for business helps keep a sound business separation for purposes of accounting, tax reporting, banks, and credit card companies. In fact, most financial institutions and major card issuers specifically exclude business related transactions conducted with personal cards from their “zero fraud liability” programs. If a business account is compromised, any personal payment methods (including card or account numbers) associated with that account may also be compromised.

Don’t Mix Facebook with Quickbooks

We also strongly recommend that business computers be used only for business. If the kids visit the office, let them know that they can’t surf the internet or go on social media sites on any of the business computers. And restrain from online gaming, downloading non-business program or file sharing programs like Dropbox. The can potentially expose your business computers to malware, viruses, spyware and other security risks that could hurt your business and your confidential information on your customers and employees.

Close the Drawbridge

It probably goes without saying that if you use Windows, you must install and regularly update anti-virus and Internet security software. Additionally, install and utilize a firewall on your business computer network to control external connections and/or prevent unauthorized access to your business information, and as a first line of defense again intrusions and malicious code attacks. Also, be aware that business wireless networks can extend beyond the walls of your building. We strongly advise having a trusted professional network security firm set up the security and encryption necessary to keep your business as your business. To close the drawbridge against all enemies, make a point to frequently change the user name and password of your anti-virus software and the password for the wireless router.

One last word, the Internet is changing our lives and our ways of doing business on a daily basis. By the time this blog is posted, some of the information provided here could have already changed or been updated. Stay abreast of new developments in business identity theft and fraud, and inform your key employees to do the same. For more information about business identity theft, sign up for email updates from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

We recommend reading “Stopping ID Theft from Paying Off” by Ohio Tax commissioner Joe Testa.