Identity theft isn’t just something that happens to consumers. Increasingly, criminals are targeting businesses as well. BBB Serving Northeast Florida & Southeast wants to warn businesses to be on guard for signs of having their business names stolen.
Criminals look for ways to steal a business’s identity by gaining access to its bank accounts, credit cards and other sensitive company information. They can do this in a number of ways: hacking into databases, phishing emails, malware, swiping your credit card or other information in the workplace, or dumpster diving for sensitive paperwork. The criminals can then secure lines of credit with banks and retailers at the expense of the victim.
BBB warns businesses to be on the lookout for the following red flags of ID theft:
- You receive a request to verify orders you didn’t place.
- You receive phone calls from someone trying to verify an address for your business that is not associated with your company or that you cannot confirm.
- You receive invoices for storage, shipping or other services that you did not purchase.
The following advice can protect your company against identity thieves:
- Protect your business’s bank accounts. Review your commercial banking agreements to determine your protections and reporting requirements. Consider using a two-person authorization or other arrangement with your bank to protect against fraudulent wire transactions. Beware of phishing scams and monitor your bank account(s) frequently.
- Protect your business identifying information. Guard your Employer Identification Number (EIN) and Tax Identification Number (TIN) the way you would your own Social Security Number. Don’t give them out unless required and shred old documents with business ID information in them. If your business or non-profit is required to give out your EIN, keep a close eye on your credit report.
- Protect and monitor your state business registration information. Regularly review your information with the Secretary of State to make sure your information hasn’t been changed or updated without authorization.
- Protect and monitor your business’ credit card, supplier and trade accounts. Keep an inventory of accounts and key contact information. Review and reconcile account statements as soon as they are received and immediately alert your credit card company if you find fraudulent activity.
- Protect and monitor your business’ credit file. At least once a year, review your business credit reports with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Keep personal and business finances separate and consider placing a credit security freeze on your personal credit file to make it harder for thieves to open new accounts under your business’ name.
- Protect your business’s computers and networks. Restrict use of your business computers to only business activities. Install anti-virus software and keep it updated regularly. Secure your company’s wireless network.
For more information about ways to prevent business identity theft and resources for dealing with the problem if it happens to your business, visit BusinessIDTheft.org, a website operated by the Identity Theft Protection Association and the National Association of Secretaries of State.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB Serving Northeast Florida & The Southeast Atlantic was founded in 1987 and serves 57 counties.