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Protecting corporate, client information from identity thieves

Feb 14, 2013 Dave King

Identity theft has become one of the most prevalent crimes in the United States, as criminals continue to target consumer and business credit to steal money. As a result, several state and federal government entities have increased legislation and enforcement practices to deter the threats, including more stringent ID verification requirements.

Businesses need to be the first line of defense against this crime, as many instances of identity theft stem from negligent management of consumer or corporate information. Executives should consider researching their companies' level of risk and formulating strong policies to ensure all data, whether in digital or physical format, is out of the reach of incendiary forces.

Electronic payments fraud
First Post recently suggested several methods of defending against identity theft that stems from electronic payments, asserting that all data from credit cards or other financial accounts pose a threat. Payments made electronically pose the biggest risk, as information is transferred through and stored in a digital environment, and could be available to identity thieves in the process. 

First, the source explained that security certificates and authentication processes are essential when accepting payments over the internet. Businesses can also recommend virtual card use, which involves a separate, less sensitive code for financial accounts that can be used for online purchases - one that is segregated from the main service. This code can be acquired through financial services providers.

According to the website, prepaid cards are considered low risk, as these products almost never have attachments to other accounts. However, when large sums of money are loaded onto prepaid cards that do not have insurance, they pose a significant risk to customers and as such need to be protected. 

For brick-and-mortar locations, First Post asserted that proper handling and destruction of all documents is key. Businesses should also consider using payment processing platforms that can accept transactions through chip- and pin-based cards. Many credit cards and alternative forms of plastic payment products are beginning to use this technology.

Keeping an eye on accounts
Businesses should always maintain stringent oversight of all accounts payable and receivable activities, as the first signs of identity theft will often appear in these areas. The most devastating instances of corporate and consumer identity theft are those that go on for long stretches of time undetected. By ensuring information governance and enforcement of all policies, companies can help in the fight against this widespread crime.