My company is poised to acquire a startup here in San Francisco, but their accounting books are confusing and questionable. They claim it’s because they’re cleaning up after an identity theft incident, but I thought identity theft affected individuals, not businesses? What’s the scoop, and what can my business do to avoid business identity theft?
This post brought to you by Fellowes, Inc. . All opinions are 100% mine.
You’re right that the media definitely focuses on personal identity theft with various companies offering credit monitoring services and the like, but it’s absolutely true that businesses large and small are also vulnerable to identity theft. It’s just at a different scale.
Here’s how the California Secretary of State describes it:
It’s entirely possible this is what happened with the company your evaluating, and it’s the result of some sloppiness on their part but survivable. There should definitely be a polie record of investigations and resolution, if nothing else, but really, this sort of thing should have all sorts of paper trail to show that it’s not the boss skimming the till or rerouting revenue. A forensic accountant might help get to the bottom of this too.
HOW DO YOU AVOID BUSINESS IDENTITY THEFT?
The best ways to avoid any sort of identity theft are also the best ways to create a security work environment and avoid industrial espionage and IP theft too, monitoring, protecting and destroying. Wait, that sounds like a Michael Bay movie, doesn’t it?
More seriously, though, every business should have a business credit profile monitor in place. Dun & Bradstreet is a good place to start: they’ll email you quarterly updates and notify you of any changes to your credit data with CreditSignal. Easy enough, and it’s free.
Then there’s all that sensitive data on your systems. To protect that, make sure your team only connects to the office via secure SSL or a Virtual Private Network (VPN) system. Plenty of options whether your Mac, PC or even Linux. And remember mobile devices need to be secured too: those smartphones can be too smart sometimes.
The third important piece is document security, and that’s where sponsor Fellowes comes into play. With the business-ready Fellowes AutoMax shredders, you can dump in up to 500 pages at a time, knowing it’ll be completely cross-shredded and safe to throw in the alley dumpster. Two key features that make it a win? Surefeed Technology, so it really will go through the stack of paper and shred each document, and SmartLock, to ensure that once those confidential documents are placed in the shredder, no-one’s going to filch those important financials.
If you’re thinking that those $99 CostCo shredders can do the trick, you might well be putting your business at risk. Check out the AutoMax line and remember that if shredding’s a hassle, people won’t do it and you then end up putting your business documents at risk. So a more expensive shredder that works and is reliable and secure is well worth the additional investment.
And a fourth recommendation to avoid business identity theft? Acquire business insurance that includes coverage against loss due to identity theft, fraud, espionage, etc.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Fellowes, but they’re part of the solution, no question. And yes, we take security very seriously here at AskDaveTaylor too.