How to protect your startup from business identity theft

By Team YS|28th May 2015
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This article is sponsored by DBS Bank. 

Of all the security breaches threatening a small business, identity theft is arguably the most devastating. Typically, a hijacker uses the business' identity to misappropriate funds and/or establish lines of credit with banks or retailers.

While most business identity thieves are members of organized crime, external parties or corporate spies, it is not rare for disgruntled or dishonest employees to cause harm.

Image Credit: shutterstock.com
Image Credit: shutterstock.com

You have worked hard to create a business identity. In this article, we discuss simple ways to protect it.

Safe Banking

  • Electronic transactions and wire transfers are made quickly. Once a fund is transferred, it might be too late to report the fraud. Activate two-factor authentication and other security controls to make it hard for an identity hijacker to make transfers. You could also set a maximum limit for wire transfers.
  • Review your accounts regularly so you may spot any fraudulent activity before it is too late. Consider tallying your accounts every day, if you possibly can. At the very least, scrutinize and reconcile account statements as soon as you receive them.
  • Net banking is a convenient option to consider. It lets you log in and check your accounts within seconds. Use a strong, complex password made from a combination of alphabets, numerals and symbols that cannot be easily guessed by others. Don't use this password on other websites and ensure that you change it regularly.
  • Sign up for e-statements only. Not only will you make a smaller carbon footprint, but you will also prevent theft of statements mailed to you in paper form.
  • Register for e-mail and text alerts related to your bank account activity.

Finally, it is wise to stay aware of your bank's fraud reporting timeline. If you are the unfortunate victim of a fraud, reporting to the bank within the timeline could help to freeze your funds and speed up reparatory action.

Physical security

  • Do not access your account online from public networks or Wi-Fi hotspots. Instead, access it from a single, secure computer with software that combats viruses and spyware as well as provides Internet security. Install all updates and patches for this software on time. Do not use this device for Web surfing or downloading. In addition, install firewalls to prevent others from misusing this computer.
  • Keep business documents, cheque books and other sensitive supplies and records in a secure location that may be accessed by authorized personnel only. Securely destroy unnecessary documents that contain business information or identifiers.
  • Maintain and regularly update an inventory of accounts and key contact information and place this in a secure location. If you encounter fraud, this information may be easily and expeditiously provided to the authorities.

Supply Chain Collaboration

Request your trade or credit references to inform you if they are contacted by a third party on your behalf. Also ask them not to conduct business with previously unknown employees unless you introduce them personally.

Workforce Training

Make information security everyone's business. Train your employees so that they can protect information, recognize fraud and mitigate security risks. They - and you - must remain vary of phishing scams, which can trick you into divulging confidential information. Remember that no legitimate organization asks you to provide or verify sensitive information over e-mail or phone. Make your employees your first line of defense. In case a customer complains about fraud, respond quickly so that the risk may be contained.

Remember that stolen funds and information are rarely recovered, so a little paranoia could be a good thing as far as protecting your business identity is concerned.

DBS Bank can help you with further guidance to keep your business AweSME. Find out how. 

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