February 15, 2013 Jacksonville, FL - Recently our office has released several news alerts where local legitimate businesses have had their identity stolen by scammers. The scammers have used the upstanding business names as a front for ulterior motives. Business identity theft (also known as corporate or commercial identity theft) is on the rise. We know, we get phone calls daily from consumers and businesses reporting it. The damage can be devastating to the victim’s business and their reputation.
BBB Serving Northeast Florida & Southeast Atlantic is sharing these tips on preventing and detecting business identity theft:
· Protect Your Business Records and Information- Business ID theft occurs the same as personal ID theft. If you are communicating or doing business online you are putting yourself at risk, but the majority of ID theft occurs offline. Thieves obtain wallets, intercept or reroute mail, and rummage through your trash to gain sensitive information. Therefore, it is important to maintain only those records that are necessary to run or operate your business and to shred those records that are not necessary. Any documents or records you need to keep to run your business should be maintained in a secure location.
· Protect Your Business Online- Do not share financial documents, sensitive personal information or account numbers via e-mail or other Web-based services. If you must provide this sensitive information over a website, ensure that the site is secure. A secure website is indicated with “https” in the websites url.
· Monitor Activity- The best method to detect possible ID theft is to monitor activity around your business. Check your business’s credit report frequently. Sign up for e-mail alerts for your accounts. If an unexpected bill or account shows up or a regular bill doesn’t arrive, contact the billing company. Also, pay attention to contact from consumers. If consumers report to you that they have received communication that does not sound like it came from your business, check it out and try to obtain the correspondence they have received.
If your business has fallen victim to identity theft BBB offers these tips:
· Report Theft Immediately- Don’t waste any time, as soon as you feel you have fallen victim contact your bank and credit providers. Report any issue to the credit reporting agencies Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Speak to the fraud department at each bureau and put a “fraud alert” on your file that will prompt creditors to contact you before they open accounts in your name.
· File a Report with Local Law Enforcement- contact the non- emergency department of your local law enforcement and arrange to file a report with them. Ask for advice on escalating issues with State or Federal officials if the need is there.
· Document Everything- Resolving the problems caused by ID theft is a time-consuming process that requires patience and focus. Take notes about conversations, ask for names, department names, phone extensions, and record dates. Follow up with either a phone call or a letter of confirmation to all creditors and credit reporting agencies.
· Protect Your Customers- make sure the personal and sensitive information of your customers is protected, and contact them if you feel this information has been compromised.
· Contact the BBB- Contact your local BBB and let them know what the situation is so they can issue an alert on your Business Review. The BBB can inform consumers that your ID has been compromised.
For further information, contact Tom Stephens, President BBB Serving Northeast Florida & Southeast Atlantic.
About Better Business Bureau:
BBB's mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. BBB accomplishes this mission by creating a community of trustworthy businesses, setting standards for marketplace trust, encouraging and supporting best practices, celebrating marketplace role models and denouncing substandard marketplace behavior.
Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization's high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB is the preeminent resource to turn to for objective, unbiased information on businesses and charities.
Contact BBB serving Northeast Florida & the Southeast Atlantic at 800-713-6661