Jun 27, 2013 Dave King
Identity theft has become one of the biggest threats to consumers in the United States, as computer hackers and criminals have found progressive methods of stealing information and using it to accumulate high dollar amounts. While companies continue to be the best line of defense against this type of crime, it has become clear that ID verification is now necessary to protect corporate identities as well.
Small business owners are at just as big of a risk as consumers when it comes to data loss and subsequent compromised identities. Thieves are now targeting smaller firms because of commonly loose security standards and resources, as well as the ability to steal more over time.
Small business owners should refine ID verification standards to ensure that their companies are safely out of harm's way when it comes to identity theft. Failure to do so could lead to a variety of issues, including hurt reputations, massive financial losses and even the inability to reopen after a major data loss, all of which affects thousands of companies each year in the U.S. alone.
Shoring up digital defenses
My Fox9 recently reported that business owners in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota have experienced increases in the frequency and intensity of cyberattacks, while lost data has translated to incurred financial damages. Though threats were already dangerous enough before the massive movement toward the digital landscape, the risks associated with internet branding initiatives are virtually boundless today.
According to the news provider, one small business owner in Eureka Township, Minn., was targeted by a social media scam that involved the creation of a fraudulent Internet presence. This has become a more common tactic among cyber criminals in recent years - setting up websites that mimic those of real companies and asking visitors to either give personal information or make payments before the service is provided.
The source explained that the owner, Maria Crane, runs a horseback riding camp and teaching business that has been in operation for roughly eight years. Despite how small her company is - she is one of the only people who work there - the criminals still targeted her information to steal money and information from either existing or would-be clients.
My Fox9 stated that the criminals set up a fake Facebook profile in the company's name, as well as a fraudulent website, while Crane only discovered this after a client had asked in person to connect with her through the social media channel. When she did not receive the invite and the client explained that someone had already accepted it in her name, she realized something was off.
This is yet another common issue in cybercrime, as criminals often are not discovered for long periods of time, allowing them more time to steal a higher volume of information and money.
The news provider discussed the matter with Dan Hendrickson of the Better Business Bureau, who explained why small business owners are becoming bigger targets for these criminals.
"What scammers have figured out is, rather than an individual where they make a small score, they can make a big hit and some real money," Hendrickson told My Fox9.
Best practices in corporate ID theft prevention
Aside from traditional ID verification protocols, businesses can take a variety of steps toward more effective defense against corporate identity theft. BusinessIDTheft.org recommends regularly checking all business banking agreements and commercial accounts, as well as implementing advanced authentication controls and data security solutions for any wire transfers, such as those made through ACH cards.