There are different nightmare scenarios out there for small business owners, none of which are particularly appealing in today’s challenging economic world.
From bad public relations and misconceptions about your brand to one or more employees stealing from you right under your nose, the chances of recovering from such situations can prove daunting if they are not handled properly.
Keep in mind that just one significant ID theft mishap can tarnish your small business, an action that may have long-term consequences.
With that in mind, turning to an identity theft protection bureau, or something similar, can go a long way in lessening the chances your brand becomes a victim.
Know the Signs of Identity Theft
Given all you have to do to run a small business, it can be easy to lose focus at times, but identity theft is not one of those occasions where you want to drop the ball.
Among the ways to lessen the odds of becoming a victim:
Know your workers. Running a smaller company should allow you to really know your employees. That said, how well do you truly know those who work under you? It just takes one employee (in-house or outsourced) to get their mitts on both employer and client data. Once they have such information, they can use it for their own bad intentions, potentially leading to lost business and lost revenue.
When you hire someone (full or part-time) spell it out that using company and/or client data for any purposes other than originally intended for, is subjecting that person to potential discipline, loss of job, and even criminal charges. If an employee gets that message from day one, he or she is less likely to be up to no good.
Know your online footprints. Unless you are a small business that is operating without a website and not taking credit and/or debit cards, you will have an online footprint. As a result, you need to make sure all online transactions, website entries, etc. are protected. Use encryption techniques so that the information is shared only between your business and your client while transacting business.
The same holds true for your website dealings. Let’s say you outsource a large swath of client data to an individual or company for accounting purposes. Make sure that the individual or business has been properly vetted, thereby lessening the chance of identity theft occurring.
Clients also need to have their own firewalls in place to better protect against hackers gaining access to sensitive company and/or client data. Lastly, make sure all your customers are legally bound to protect the data, and address any breaches.
Know how to be on top of technology. It should not come as a big surprise that hackers are always trying to stay one leg up on authorities, businesses, and of course consumers. That being the case, make sure your technology doesn’t lapse, thereby allowing hackers to easily infiltrate your website, credit card machines and more.
Yes, you will likely spend more money to increase your technology capabilities, but stop for a moment and think about the potential long-term consequences if you are hacked even just once. Not only will it be a financial consequence, but the negative PR your brand receives could be even more significant. When it comes to brands, perception is oftentimes considered more important than reality. As a result, one identity theft incident can be tough to recover from.
Identity theft is certainly not a laughing matter for small business owners. Don’t let yourself become a target or a victim.